A woman was arrested – then ‘quickly de-arrested’ –following a dispute over a Mersey Gateway Bridge toll fine.
Stevy Bradley, from Burtonwood, endured the traumatic experience following two unpaid penalties after crossings at the site in July 2018.
Both Stevy and her partner use the vehicle that used the bridge, but are not certain over who was driving at the time.
She says she has been made to pay £870 – despite the crossings costing £2 each.
Stevy confirmed her vehicle was clamped last Wednesday, May 29.
But the matter escalated, with enforcement agents and police attending the next day.
The mum-of-one said: “At 6.50am the next morning (Thursday), there was a knock on the door.
“Obviously, I jumped up out of bed and saw there was a lifter truck in the street.
“I had blocked my car in so that they could not take it.
“I got into my pyjamas and got my phone and iPad then ran out and into my car – which is actually my car, not my partner’s, who they were coming to collect from.
“I was very peaceful and spoke to the police, I unwound the window a little bit so I could talk.
“They were very nice, the police weren’t aggressive towards me at all.
“I kept explaining the car is registered in my partner’s name in the logbook, but the logbook isn’t proof of ownership.”
Cheshire Police has confirmed officers were called to reports of a vehicle obstructing the highway in Burtonwood, on Arundell Close, at around 9.10am on Thursday.
A spokesman said: “Officers attended the scene and a woman was subsequently arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway and obstructing a court enforcer.
“The woman was quickly de-arrested after the incident came to an amicable conclusion and no further action will be taken.”
But Stevy says the initial arrest made her feel like her ‘whole world had just shattered’.
Reflecting on it, she said: “At this point, I am still locked in the car and they couldn’t get to me.
“The sergeant came back and said he had not radioed it in yet but he can de-arrest me if I get out of the car and release it to them, or pay the amount they wanted, which was £490.
“I paid that money but did not have it to pay – that was rent money and shopping money.
“I had already paid £380 to them and then another £490 on Thursday.
“As soon as I stepped out the car, he de-arrested me.
“This has caused so much stress.”
Despite the traumatic experience, Stevy hailed members of the Scrap Mersey Tolls campaign group for their support.
She added: “I have ended up being a guinea pig on this, with the police being involved.
“I have had to beg for a doctor’s appointment as I am too anxious, I feel like I have got post-traumatic stress.”
Merseyflow, the toll operator for the site, says more than 38 million crossings have been made since the bridge opened in October 2017.
A spokesman said: “We are pleased that 97 per cent of the users of the Mersey Gateway Bridge pay on time each time they cross, either through their registered account, or within the required payment period.
“Out of all the crossings made, only 0.1 per cent have resulted in a visit by an enforcement agent.
“The use of an enforcement agent is always a last resort for PCNs (penalty charge notices) that remain unpaid.
“It’s only fair to the vast majority of our customers who pay, that Merseyflow works hard to recover money from those who persistently don’t pay.
“Cases that reach the advanced enforcement stage where an enforcement agent makes a visit to recover a debt will have had numerous opportunities to pay, and at least five written notifications that they have an outstanding debt.”
The operator says these opportunities include the chance to pay the original £2 crossing charge, the original PCN (an option to pay costing £22 per PCN, if paid within 14 days) and a notice of enforcement reminder (an option to pay costing £145 per PCN).
It added: “Our message to anyone who gets a PCN is please don’t ignore it.
“You should take action as soon as possible because if the debt is passed on to an enforcement agent, then it will increase significantly.
“It is also worth remembering that these enforcement agent fees are set by law.
“They are not set by the enforcement agents, Merseyflow or any other organisation connected with the Mersey Gateway Bridge.
“In this particular case, the customer made no attempt to pay the PCNs until they received the notice of enforcement from our enforcement agents.
“Their witness statement at this stage was rejected and the customer was informed of this in writing.
“They then made no further attempt to contact us until the day the enforcement agent visited their property.”