Humber Bridge Bill 'to bring management into 21st century'
LEGISLATION to overhaul management of the Humber Bridge is set to go before Parliament by the end of this month.
MPs from across the region have been meeting this week to plan tactics for the Humber Bridge Bill's first reading, scheduled for January 30.
The Private Bill will give the Bridge's board greater financial freedom. Two representatives from the business community will be added to the board.
Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy, who has campaigned for a bill since before the last General Election, said legislation would take the Bridge's management into the 21st century.
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He said: "This was a bridge built in the 1980s and structured on a law drafted in the 1950s, but now the Bridge Board will be modernised and equipped to succeed in the 21st century."
Private Bills are not formally backed by the Government, so can take time to pass through Parliament, while they are also vulnerable to opposition from backbench MPs.
Mr Percy said Humber MPs had agreed to "secure the bill's progress through Parliament" on a cross-party basis.
"We've agreed to work hard and do everything possible by being present in the House of Commons at every stage of the legislative process," he said.
"We all agree this is a necessary bill, not least because it will give the Humber Bridge Board the financial freedom to keep tolls down."
Mr Percy also suggested every MP should formally sponsor the bill to emphasise that it was not a partisan issue.
Hull East MP Karl Turner, who was also at Thursday's meeting, paid tribute to Mr Percy for having run a successful campaign.
He said: "Andrew took this up as a campaign in the run-up to the 2010 General Election and has pushed it all the way. He's done a great job and I pay tribute to him for pursuing it so tenaciously.
"It's another example of politicians working cross-party for the good of the region. We're all committed to working as hard as possible to make sure it gets through."
Bringing forward a Private Bill was a Treasury condition for agreeing to write-down £150m of the Bridge's debt so that car tolls could be halved to £1.50.
The Treasury also stipulated the board be reduced to just four representatives, one from each local authority, including, for the first time, North East Lincolnshire.
After its first reading, the bill will proceed straight to the Committee Stage if there are no objections. It should become law by the end of this year.