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Posted by: John Brace | 25th September 2015

MTUA accuse politicians of ‘U-turn’ on Mersey Tunnel tolls promises

MTUA accuse politicians of ‘U-turn’ on Mersey Tunnel tolls promises

                                                                  

For those not from Merseyside and reading this in far-flung lands, I had better first explain what the Mersey Tunnels are. Anyone local to Merseyside reading this can skip the next paragraph.

Liverpool is separated from the peninsula of the Wirral by the River Mersey and beneath the River Mersey are two road tunnels and a railway tunnel (the railway tunnel that opened in 1886 is not the focus of this article). One road tunnel connects Liverpool to the town of Birkenhead (called the Queensway Tunnel) and the other with the town of Wallasey (called the Kingsway Tunnel). The Birkenhead Tunnel opened in 1934 and the Wallasey Tunnel in 1971. Both road tunnels are tolled with the current cash toll for cars being £1.70 (different rates apply for those who pay by Fast Tag or different sizes of vehicles).

The issue of the tunnel tolls has been a long running political issue locally and each year the tunnel tolls are set by local politicians. For years the local transport body called Merseytravel (which was then eighteen councillors from the various parts of Merseyside) decided on the Mersey Tunnel tolls. As the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) was created in April 2014, it meant that this year the tolls decision was made by the LCRCA (on a recommendation from the Merseytravel Committee).

The LCRCA comprises the elected leaders of each Council on Merseyside, the elected Mayor of Liverpool, the Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Leader of Halton. The Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership (as detailed in the LCRCA’s constitution) doesn’t have a vote when the Mersey Tunnel tolls are set and the Leader of Halton abstained in the vote this year because Halton’s not part of Merseyside.

Earlier this year, in the lead up to the 2015 General Election (to elect MPs) and 2015 local elections (to elect local councillors) politicians from both the Labour and Conservative parties made soothing noises to the public about the issue of tunnel tolls.

Once the running costs of the tunnels and debt repayments are paid out of the money received through tolls, there is now a surplus of around £16 million. The generally accepted position is that legislation, in this case the Mersey Tunnels Act 2004 means that any surplus tolls are only spent on transport projects that are in the Local Transport Plan.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting of the 13th February 2015 which should start at agenda item 7 (2015/16 Mersey Tunnel Tolls which starts at 1h 3m 4s)

However returning to February 2015 (see video of that meeting above which should start at the right point) politicians on the LCRCA agreed to a freeze in toll charges.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson speaking on a motion on the Mersey Tunnels at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 13th February 2015

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson speaking on a motion on the Mersey Tunnels at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 13th February 2015

The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, seconded by the Chair of the LCRCA Cllr Phil Davies moved the following motion (agreed at February’s meeting of the LCRCA as you can read in the minutes):

The Combined Authority (CA) calls on:

  • The Chair of the CA to set up a task group to consider options open to the CA to reduce costs of tunnel tolls and its impact on infrastructure and transportation;
  • The Head of Paid Service of the CA to produce a report for discussion to inform the setting of tunnel tolls for 2016/17;
  • The CA to press for a review of the Mersey Tunnel Act in any on-going devolution negotiations.

The Mersey Tunnel Users Association feels that the recently approved devolution asks of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as reported earlier this month on this blog, which include asking the government for a legislation change so that surplus tolls can be spent on "wider broader infrastructure and economic development and transport infrastructure across the city region" is a U-turn on what politicians’ position was before the election.

John McGoldrick, secretary for the Mersey Tunnel Users Association (MTUA) stated,

"Assuming that the politicians meant what they said earlier this year, then it looks as if they have done a u-turn and the users of the Tunnels are to be sold down the river. Instead of stopping the profit taking and reducing tolls, it seems that the City Region’s aim is to use the tolls profits on economic development or infrastructure "across the city region". The people who voted in the May elections have been duped over what Labour’s tolls policy was.

The Conservative party also made promises about reducing or abolishing tolls. It is not yet clear what the Government is going to do and whether they will honour what the Chancellor and others said before the May elections. We urge all drivers and businesses to raise this issue with their MP and local councillors."

The motion to the special meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting that met on the 2nd September and approved the devolution asks of government made it clear that before any devolution deal offered by the government was approved, that the constituent councils would have to agree and there would have to be consultation.

Each of the constituent councils in the LCRCA are Labour controlled and those that make these decisions on this matter on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority are all Labour politicians.

It remains to be seen what the Conservative government’s response will be to the request for greater flexibility on what surplus tunnel tolls can be spent on.

However the MTUA is also against the spending of tunnel tolls on transport projects. John McGoldrick of the MTUA added "Obviously the MTUA aim is no tolls, but as a minimum we want a stop to the use of tolls for non Tunnels purposes."

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Responses

  1. In days of yore counties were defined by natural boundaries such as mountains and rivers. In 1974 new Counties were created ignoring these natural boundaries. The ‘robber barons’ of the Mersey tunnel management saw the opportunity to impose a tax on the workers which has steadily crept up over the years from 10p to £1.70 and rising. So we are being charged to travel from one part of our County to the other. Recently the Whitehall mandarins attempted to combine various electoral constituencies. This include combining Wallasey with Kirkdale and Eastham with Halton-don’t these people have maps?!
    The tunnels should have been free since 1974 and part of the National road network.

    • I think over the years that Merseytravel have written to the government to ask for the Mersey Tunnels to be part of the National Road Network.

      The response has always been no.

      As to the parliamentary constituency boundary review (part of the coalition agreement to equalise numbers of voters in constituencies) that was abandoned a while ago.

      When some backbench Conservatives refused to support the Lib Dems over House of Lords reform and having an elected second chamber (which was part of the Coalition agreement), the former Lib Dem Leader stated that the Lib Dems were therefore not supporting the Conservatives over the redrawing of parliamentary constituency boundaries (which was also in the Coalition agreement). So although some preliminary work was done, it never went ahead.

  2. G’day John

    Did I miss something.

    I read quickly and rushing out to try and find work four and a half years on the dole after Basnett started to offer me a job on my whistleblowing.

    What does MTUA stand for?

    Ooroo

    James

    She didn’t follow through and left it to “The Shyster” and “The Pretend Friend” to tell “Highbrow”.

    Is it

    Mersey Travels Unsavoury “Ankles”?

    • MTUA stands for Mersey Tunnel Users Association. It’s a campaign group that campaigns for the abolition (or reduction) of tolls for the Mersey Tunnels.

  3. G’day john

    Just going out the door.

    The local rubbish propaganda sheet

    Could Wirral be about to reduce councillor numbers from 66 to 44?

    Bet they don’t they wouldn’t be able to hide or have a sneaky sleep hey Boyo?

    Ooroo

    James

    He is quite likeable and decent when asleep.

  4. G’day John

    An esky is a container for your slabs of piss (beer) and ice.

    They don’t like drinking warm piss down under like what AdderleyDadderlyDooDah and other Brits drink.

    Ooroo

    James

  5. Oh here we go, lets set up a task forse, so we can spend more rater payers money on shit idears, if you have £16 mill a year pay the bloody debit off, them when this is done, you can have millions to play with, as long as you lower the toll to 10 pence a trip

  6. G’day John

    I had this dream last night that Ecca turned up at “Crabapple’s Fudgit It and Risk it Mis-Management Committee on Monday night dragging “Ankles” by the ear and sacking them all and telling “Ankles”.

    We at Wirral, now that we have started to rid ourselves of the evil cancer last Tuesday we will now sack all these muppets from the committee that were involved in the Wirral “Funny” Bizz conspiracy against the beautiful whistleblowers “Highbrow” and the Irreverent Aussie.

    We will sack these useless auditors who have absolutely no cojones.

    And, we will sack all the councillors and senior officers who aided and abetted in the conspiracy against those open, honest and transparent whistleblowers namely “The Shyster” “The Little Angry Man” he he he didn’t get my job again “Humpty Dumpty” “The Chamber Potty” “The Garbage Lady” “the Pretend Friend” “Phil the Deluded Dill” “Phil the Dill’s Ugly Twin Brother with the comb over from hell” “Ankles” “Clowncillor Creamy Crispy Doughnut” “Crabapple” “The Raving Loony” etc etc….

    He told “Ankles” that we are going to set a precedent in local government and “DO THE RIGHT THING” and what’s more you are going to court and fete the whistleblowers for four and a half years compensate them and invite them to all your family public fights at The Hall..

    “Ankles” protested “THE RIGHT THING” “COUNCILS DON’T DO THE RIGHT THING EVER that is what we do for our greedy little selves you Blinking CEO.

    Ecca stood erect and said, blinking, from now on Wirral will do the right and we will compensate “Highbrow” and his little Aussie mate for four and a half years of blatant lies, deceit, and disrespect. Amen.

    I woke up.

    Ooroo

    James

    John that Beverley Edwards Report should be taken to the Fudgit and Risk Il Mis-Management Committee on Monday and they should express their apologise to us loudly and publicly.

    Then resign.

  7. G’day John

    I think “Crabapples” Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee on Monday should consider AdderleyDadderlyDooDah’s disappearance and question whether Wirral “Funny” Bizz did nick off with £2,000,000.00?

    He he he they should ask Grant (waste of space and money) Thornton about Wirral’s contingent liabilities.

    DCLG DCLG DCLG

    I think they should ask Grant (waste of money and space) Thornton what their view is without giving them another £50,000.00 plus just to be ignored.

    I think all councillors that thought AdderleyDadderleyDooDah was a decent public servant should just quit on the spot.

    I think “Crabapples” Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee should consider who decided to hide Beverley Edwards Report for four years and get Dave Garry to supersede it with a croc of shit.

    Who is the master/mistress conspirator?

    Ooroo

    James

    We all know who the mistress was.

  8. G’day John

    Being a caring compassionate whistleblower have you heard anything of Reprahnehpets?

    I trust he is well?

    They really do upset him the *ricks.

    Ooroo

    James

    • No, there haven’t been any comments made on this blog from Reprahnetpets for a while. I’ve no idea who he or she really is.

  9. G’day John

    You are a cheeky little monkey you know who he is……tease.

    I just hope he is well but I am a little disappointed he has stopped fighting the good fight.

    Who were his arch enemies?

    I think he often slagged off AdderleyDadderlyDooDah and that slimy auditor with the alphabet after his name that Gra Gra courted and feted at that ridiculous Public Improvement Board shite.

    Gra Gra really took the piss out of AdderleyDadderlyDooDah and his girlfriend too I believe. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Getting him to stand up with his mate “Humpty Dumpty” to lie publicly at his farce of a public meeting into Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods on 8 October 2014 was a masterclass in revenge.

    Ooroo

    James

    Reps is a good judge of character.

  10. G’day John

    A challenge for you my lad.

    You could present you guestimate to the Fudgit It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee tomorrow night John of the conspiracy against Wirral “Funny” Bizz whistleblowers.

    If AdderleyDadderlyDooDah had just said to me on 5 July 2011 OK Jamesy My Boy we will close them down today because A4E have been giving them dodgy audit reports for ages and Paula and Dianna have known for yonks they are as dodgy as “Ankles”. We (I) also fucked up big time with Lockwood Engineering.

    How much would have been saved?

    They paid the thieving rotten barstards for another 18 months. For shit.

    They got rid of Beverley Edwards and how much did she cost apart from the majority of her wages as she told me she had nothing else on her plate and she was on the case for about five months and her departure must have cost something?

    Dave Garry’s wages as he re-wrote Beverley’s audit report that was a croc of shit anyway?

    And his £40,000.00 pay off.

    The hours spent by “The Pretend Friend” planning and scheming to stall “Highbrow” with others obviously?

    The money spent on Grant Thornton’s independent investigation arranged by “The Pretend Friend” at £50,000.00 plus.

    im saying ” I have to have an audit trail boyo because I am a cunning old shit that they can’t catch out.”

    A big fat welsh sheep shit.

    Now John the biggest challenge “The Shyster”.

    “Highbrow” and I laugh our bits off every time another FOI goes in and has him tangled up in knots and raising his blood pressure just because he has no say in stopping the dodgy barstards being dodgy.

    This must all cost a fortune just because AdderleyDadderlyDooDah couldn’t just admit Wirral “Funny” Bizz were as crook as Rookwood.

    Then there was the cost of The Improvement Board shit.

    Then there was Garym Lambert with the alphabet after his name to pretend there was nothing wrong and humour “Highbrow” because he had learnt his mate “The Pretend Friend” would turn over his own mother and children for his allowances.

    Then there was Gra Gra’s farce of a public meeting into Big,ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods that must of cost a fortune in hours rehearsing and telling Grant (waste of space and money) to say nothing.

    Grant (waste of space and money) in attendance also at great expense and they were obviously told to keep their gobs shut at the dress rehearsal.

    John there is more but I think I have given you enough to estimate for now.

    Ooroo

    James

    “Highbrow” and I reckon they have wasted about £150,000.00 at least defending the maggot that is AdderleyDadderlyDooDah and the clock is very much still ticking with Ecca’s involvement.

    • If you read page 4 of the letter on this previous blog post here (letter to Cllr Foulkes and Jim Wilkie), it states in it that the Local Government Association estimated that in 2011/12 the Improvement Board costed Wirral Council £33,660.

      I think the actual cost was revealed at the last public Improvement Board meeting when someone asked that question.


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