So for the next six weeks we know there will be no Wirral Line trains using the loop line. We also know that Merseyrail have laid on train replacement buses and that Merseytravel will be using the Mersey ferries to transport people to and from their workplaces.
However we also know that human nature being what it is, that many commuters will revert to using their cars. Now while this will cause some disruption and possible delays at the tunnels, it will also generate a huge amount of ‘Extra Income’ for Merseytravel through toll charges, how much will this be? I could not even guess, however I am sure it will be a substantial sum of money running into the tens of thousands of pounds. I believe it would be a great idea if Merseytravel calculated that extra income and instead of making even greater surpluses they donated the extra income to charity, and I would happily nominate Claire House as a beneficiary.
Now I know from the time I served on Merseytravel, that until it was stopped because of a legal challenge that Merseytravel used to donate to charity all the extra money it received via the tolls from those people who simply did not have the right money so put in extra coins, locally Foxfield School and Claire House benefited from this. Sadly now, as I said because a group of people challenged the use of this ‘Extra’ money it had to be stopped. But these are different circumstances and I am sure that Merseytravel could, if they looked find a way to put this extra unexpected income back into the community.
So here’s a plea to the Chairman of Merseytravel, Cllr Liam Robinson, the Chair of the Combined Authority Cllr Joe Anderson and to the Chief Executive, Director General of Merseytravel, Frank Rogers, hey guys do the right thing!
Campaigners for a new railway station between Moreton and Meols are urging Wirral Council and Merseytravel to work together and submit a bid to a new £20 million Government fund for new stations.
The fund, announced by the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP, will provide up to 75% of the cost for construction of new stations or to reopen previously closed stations.
Councillor Steve Williams said: “We know from surveys and petitions over the last few years that a new station for the Millhouse and Lingham neighbourhoods in Moreton will help more people to use the rail network, and reduce congestion on some of our busiest roads.
“Until recently, Merseytravel and Wirral Council have always said that a station would be too expensive. With this new pot of money from the Government, the cost to Merseytravel could be just a quarter of previous estimates – making a great investment in the rail network and a big boost to the Moreton community.”
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “The new stations fund is a great example of how our record investment in the railways and work with local authorities and industry is delivering better journeys for passengers.
“Through this fund, passengers will benefit from new connections and faster journeys, making it easier to get to work and visit friends and family. It will also provide a major boost for local economies and support the delivery of local housing developments.”
The deadline for bidders for the second round of funding is 18 November 2016 with an announcement of successful projects expected to be made early next year.
Councillor Williams has written to Merseytravel and the Council, urging them to submit a bid for the ‘Town Meadow Station’ by the November deadline.
Read the Wirral Globe report HERE
Following the Mersey Tunnels Item at the Merseytravel Budget meeting we moved on to the Independent Report produced by Declan Hall on Members Allowances
I had already made it abundantly clear that I and the Conservative Group on Merseytravel thought that any increase in allowances was unacceptable, however the recommendations made by Mr Hall were huge and in my opinion totally out of kilter with the current situation many people find themselves in.
I am delighted that following pressure from the Conservative and the Lib Dem Members on Merseytravel, Labour caved in and voted not to accept the increases. This has saved the hard pressed council taxpayer circa £82,000 per year.
Sadly whilst turning down the increase they chose to personally attack me, obviously looking at some way of venting their anger. My answer is simple ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’ Don’t worry Joe I am thick skinned enough not to worry about any lectures by any of your members, all they did was show their true colours! Quite sad really, I have lost a lot of respect for one Labour member in particular, they really should know better!!!
At todays Merseytravel budget meeting I was delighted to support officers recommendations that there should be NO increase on Payable Mersey Tunnel Tolls for the coming municipal year, however because of the Tunnels Act 2004 we have no control over the Authorised Tolls which have risen again this year!
I am keen that those regular users who buy fast tags should be given every opportunity to access further discounts and as such I moved an amendment to the recommendation which asked officers to investigate if there was any way of giving a bigger discount to fast tag users. I was absolutely gobsmacked when all the Labour Councillors on Merseytravel voted against my amendment which costs absolutely nothing to the Authority other than some Officer time.
It appears that the Merseytravel Spin doctors have gone into full overdrive, professing that the recommended huge increases in members allowances will actually save the Authority £21,000 year on year. Well it will if you use the figures they are using, those that were approved at the Authority AGM in June 2011.
Seems that in order to try to spin this bad news positively the ‘Merseytrave Media’ machine (the same one that has stated categorically that there are no plans to increase tunnel tolls) has conveniently forgotten that the Authority agreed on a voluntary basis in September 2011 to only take one Special Responsibility Allowance per member and to cease paying deputy Chairmen any allowances at all. If you take that into account the proposals actually create an increase into what is being currently paid month on month. In effect if the staus quo was maintained then the saving year on year would be in the region of £80,000!
Merseytravel wordsmiths can spin it how they like, facts are facts and allowances are recommended to increase by massive amounts.
I believe as do the public that these recommendations are obscene and unacceptable and I challenge the Labour and Lib Dem Members on Merseytravel to dismiss the proposals and formalise the informal approach that has been in place since September 2011 and save the public purse in the region of £80,000 per year. Will they, we will find out on February 9th……
Today I received a copy of the report commissioned by Merseytravel into the Members allowance scheme!
The report, compiled by Declan Hall recommends huge and what I believe to be obscene increases in both basic and Special Responsibility allowances (SRAs) and if approved by the Authority will send completely the wrong message to the workforce many of whom are having to take pay cuts as a result of harmonisation.
When I met with Declan Hall I made it very plain that it did not matter how he cut cut the cake, there should be no overall increase in the amounts paid in total. His recommendations clearly don’t relate to that at all!
I have attached HERE a full copy of his report, however the headlines of his recommendations are that:
- Basic allowances for all 18 members increased from £5675 to £7266 increase of 28.0%
- Chair of the Authority increased from £24308 to £29813 increase of 22.6%
- Vice Chair of the Authority increased from £12896 to £17888 increase of 38.7%
- Chair of Committees increased from £4432.70 to £7453 increase of 68.1%
- Chair of Strategy and Finance Committee from £8512.95 to £17888 a whopping increase of 110.1%
I sincerely hope (and this is for you Joe) that the controlling Labour Group at the budget meeting of the Authority join me in saying thank you to Mr Hall for his work but ma,king it very clear that no one on the authority will take a penny more than they receive now!
Earlier today I attended a Merseytravel Committee which had a report about Mersey tunnel tolls. The report was for information and it appeared that the Chairman of the committee was reluctant to allow any discussion as it will be the budget meeting of the Authority on 9th February that will determine what the payable tolls will be. However I used the opportunity to move an amendment asking the Directors to investigate the possibility of reducing tolls further, sadly all the Labour Members on the Authority including the Wirral Labour Councillors voted against my amendment! An opportunity losT
While I was at the meeting Merseytravel tweeted that tolls would not rise. I thought Councillors made the decisions, not Media Officers?