Mersey tunnels toll price rise blocked

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Kingsway Tunnel. Pic © Wikimedia / Creative Commons / Chris Croft

Kingsway Tunnel. Pic © Wikimedia / Creative Commons / Chris Croft

Travel bosses have decided against a proposed increase in Mersey tunnel toll prices, with Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson leading calls for the fee to be reduced.

At a meeting of the City Region Combined Authority on Friday, officials agreed that tunnels price should remain at £1.70 for motorists next year.

They backed Merseytravel’s decision yesterday to reverse an earlier recommendation that tolls should rise by 10p to £1.80 for journeys through the Kingsway and Queensway Tunnels.

The initial suggested price rise received a mixed reaction but was slammed by Wirral MPs and Mayor Anderson, who previously had supported the increase provided the Fast Tag system prepaid charge was frozen at £1.40.

The mayor said this week: “We don’t charge people to come into Liverpool from Sefton or Knowsley – so should we be continuing to use the tunnel to pay for things that clearly other people within the city region who do not use the tunnel are not paying for? It’s an extra tax.”

He went on to claim that 10 times the money generated from tunnel tolls is spent “disproportionately” on infrastructure in the south of Liverpool.

The proposed increase was under the 2004 Tunnels Act, which states that tolls should automatically rise in line with inflation, but with the option of a lesser rise or freeze based on economic or social pressures.

John McGoldrick, of the Mersey Tunnel Users’ Association which has been campaigning for reduced or abolished tolls, described the decision as “a real surprise”.

He said: “It looks as if now there is a fresh eye looking at the tolls issue since the Combined Authority took over. This could be an opportunity to reduce tolls across the board or at certain times. Also, saying they want the Mersey Tunnel Tolls Act repealed – which would mean we don’t have to go through this rigmarole every year.”

The freeze at the current price could still be reviewed in 12 months, but Mayor Anderson has also discussed looking at the Tunnels Act 2004 as part of negotiations for devolution of powers to the city region with the Government.

About James Tomlinson, JMU Journalism