Today, along with my colleague Cllr Ian Lewis I attended the Integrated Transport Authority Budget meeting, (Merseytravel). At the meeting, having been told earlier in the week by the Director of Resources, that a 10p cut in Class One tolls was ‘Affordable’ and could be funded by ‘built in head room/Capital’ we moved an amendment accordingly, sadly although it was ‘Affordable’ it was voted down by Labour and Lib Dem Councillors.
Merseytravel is a really well run organisation and I am delighted to serve on it, however they seem intent on using the tolls, as some sort of cash cow to fund other schemes, all at the expense of the motorists.
We are of course happy that tolls have not risen this year, however, I believe that a tremendous opportunity has been missed by Labour and Lib Dems to ease the burden on the tunnel users, an opportunity that may never be available again, and the ‘Authorised’ toll for cars at £1.60, is a ticking time bomb that is likely to explode in all our faces next year.
Tomorrow, as a member of the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (MITA) I shall be attending the full Authority meeting that will determine the budget for 2010/11. One of the items on the agenda talks about Mersey Tunnel Tolls. You can read more of my postings on that by clicking, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE
Over the last week or so, I have, and I continue to ask questions of senior Merseytravel officers, so that I can explore options that may allow the Conservative Group on Merseytravel to move amendments to the Tunnels issue, to try to minimise the toll burden, however the final decision on the tunnels and the budget is a matter for the 18 elected Members who serve on the Authority. I will keep an open mind on all the matters on the agenda and will listen to all the arguments put forward on the why’s and wherefores of the budgetry issues before I make my final decision on which way to vote.
The protest was organised by the Mersey Tunnels Users Association, (MTUA) and was led by John McGoldrick (Secretary) and Dave Loudon (Chairman) and was extremely well suported with around 40 people turning up with banners. It was clear from the honking of horns from vehicles using the tunnel that many, many people are upset at this latest tax on the people of Wirral and the wider Merseyside community.
Conservatives in Wirral believe that tolling for the Mersey tunnels should be removed, and that they should be brought into the national road network with any outstanding debts together with future maintenance and operating costs being incorporated in the national road network debt.
However if that is not to happen we welcome and support the efforts of the Mersey Tunnel Users Association, who have suggested the introduction of a scheme based on the ‘Dartford Tunnel Toll Model’, with discounts for users who live in Wirral and Liverpool.
I have to say it was particularly disappointing that neither of the two Labour councillors, or the Lib Dem councillor who serve on Merseytravel bothered to show up for the protest. Perhaps they don’t like the cold weather?