Mersey Tunnel Tolls

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?

 

Mersey Tunnel ‘Authorised’ Tolls Will Increase in April 2012

As readers of the blog and the wider community will be aware the  Mersey Tunnels Act 2004, pushed through by New Labour allows ‘Authorised Tolls’ to rise based on RPI figures each year.    The Authorised Toll is the amount that Merseytravel are allowed to charge, unless of course they discount them.     Currently discounts apply on each class and I sincerely hope will not be removed or increased in April 2012.

Folowing publication of the November RPI figures I have just received the figures from Merseytravels Director of Resources on the impact on the Tolls, his note to me (below) and the table say it all.     The determination of payable tolls will be decided at the Merseytravel budget meeting in February 2012.  We all know that last time payable tolls increased it was forced through by the casting vote of the Labour Chairman of the Authority!

Email from Jim Barclay:

Chris, Further to recent emails, I can now advise you on the impact of  the latest RPI figures which  were released earlier this week. From  the inflation rates for November 2011 we  can understand the impact that this year’s inflation will have on the Authorised Toll Levels at the Mersey Tunnels. The table below details the Authorised Toll Levels and Actual Toll Levels currently in place, along with the Authorised Toll Levels that will come into effect on 1st April 2012. Obviously, the Authority will need to make a decision as to the Actual Tolls for 2012 when they meet on 9 February 2012. I hope this information helps: –

Class

Toll

Apr ‘11

Apr ‘12

1

Authorised

£1.60

£1.70

Actual Toll Cash

£1.50

 

Actual Toll Fast Tag

£1.30

 

2

Authorised

£3.30

£3.40

Actual Toll Cash

£3.00

 

Actual Toll Fast Tag

£2.60

 

3

Authorised

£4.90

£5.20

Actual Toll Cash

£4.50

 

Actual Toll Fast Tag

£3.90

 

4

Authorised

£6.50

£6.90

Actual Toll Cash

£6.00

 

Actual Toll Fast Tag

£5.20

 

 Kind Regards, Jim

 Jim Barclay, Director of Resources, Merseytravel, 24 Hatton Garden, Liverpool L3 2AN

A Huge Loss to Merseyside!

I was gutted to hear today that Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel has decided to leave and take up a new position with Translink in Brisbane, Australia.     I have known Neil for a number of years, and worked with him closely over the last five as member of Merseytravel, he was inspirational, what he does not know about transport you could write on the back of a stamp.   

I suppose Neil leaving the Authority was only a matter of time, and I personally think has been  brought about by the actions of the controlling Labour group at the AGM in June when they did a massive U turn on Vertigral Integration, which, created a huge split between the Authority and the Executive putting Neil and the controlling group at odds with each other.   That, by any stretch of the imagination makes it difficult for a CX to function.     Of course, this has all been compounded by the fact that Labour now seem to want to control and micro manage the organisation, questioning the very role of the Executive! 

Neils going is truly a massive loss for the people of Merseyside and a real catch for the Aussies.   I wish him and his family every success in their new life ‘Down Under’.

The text of Neils announcement is below

Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know personally that today I tendered my resignation as Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel.     It was a hard decision to make and one I spent some considerable time agonising over, but I have received an offer which was too difficult to refuse. 

From Spring next year, I shall be the Chief Executive of TransLink, the public transport authority in Brisbane, Australia.     For me, this is a challenge to make a real difference on the other side of the world and it is the opportunity of a once-in-a lifetime experience “down under”.

I know I leave Merseytravel in good shape to face the future and I am proud of what we have achieved together.   There is much I will miss, in particular the tremendous support I have received from you all during my time here (almost 15 years!).      

I truly thank you for your loyalty and hard work and wish you all every success in the future. 

Regards

Neil Scales OBE,

C.Eng, FI.MechE, FICE, FIET

Chief Executive & Director General

Merseytravel

24 Hatton Garden

Liverpool L3 2AN

Merseytravel AGM – Part One

Yesterday saw the Merseytravel Annual General Meeting take place at Hatton Garden.   One of the more contentious items on the agenda was a report from the Director of Resources, put together at the request of the Chairman of the Authority which would see an increase in Special Responsibility allowances for some Labour Members and the introduction of a new allowance  of almost £4,000 payable to the Deputy Chairman of the Womens Forum, and this at a time when 139 posts have been lost in the organisation and a further 102, some of whom are the lowest paid in the Authority will potentually be losing in excess of £2,000 per year from their wages!    The message to the workforce is clearly one of “I’m alright Jack”.

In an effort to stop these obscene and unwarranted increases both the Lib Dems and my group moved a series of amendments, all of which called for an independent remuneration panel to be commission to look at allowances and how they are paid, after all thats what happens in other Authorities, sadly all our attempts failed with Labour voting against our amendments and voting for an increase in allowances.   Labour the party of the people?   Seems not on Merseytravel, I am told it is the only Authority in the country where Elected Members determine directly what they should be paid?     Time for Change!

I’m All Right Jack?

This evening I received the reports for the Integrated Transport Authority Annual General Meeting (Merseytravel), which takes place on Monday 27th June.   Apart from all the usual papers and reports there is a report from the Director of Resources which talks about the Members Allowance Scheme.

The Director talks of the ‘Background’ of the report and writes: “In 2009 the Special Responsibility Allowances paid to Integrated Transport Authority Members were subject to a 5% reduction.  In 2010/11 the ITA agreed some further reductions .    For 2011/12 the proposal is to freeze allowances and do to some minor tidying up where appropriate.”   

I’m thinking thats ok, until I see that the minor tidying up, is to increase the allowance paid to the Chair of the Womens Forum by 63% and to introduce an additional  payment of  £3688.85 for a Deputy Chair of the Womens Forum.  I don’t call that minor!

At the same time as this proposal is going forward, Job Evaluation results have been published which show that 33 Mersey Tunnel Toll operatives are likely to lose around £2,000 per year and a further 69 member of staff are also facing huge reductions in pay.

Now I have fully supported the need for change and have publicly endorsed the One Team One Family process,(OTOF), Single Status, harmonisation and job evaluation, however I can’t stand by and watch Members allowances being increased by any amount, even those described as ‘Minor’ when some of the lowest paid in the Authority are having their wages slashed by huge amounts.  

As leader of the Conservatives on the Authority our group will be voting against these obscene proposals.   I hope that Labour and the Lib Dems will join with us next week, if they don’t then the message to the staff is clear!    Yep its the headline Joe!!!

Tunnel Tolls Increased by Labour

Despite appeals by the small businesses, tunnels users, me, Mersey Tunnels Users Association, the CBI, MP’s both Labour and Conservatives,  and many many others, Labour-led Merseytravel has forced through a rise in tunnel tolls.

Me and Leah Fraser protested last time Merseytravel increased Tolls

As the Conservative Group Leader on Merseytravel I moved an amendment calling for a freeze on payable tolls and a reduction of 10p for Fast Tag users, sadly this was defeated, so I moved a further amendment calling for a total freeze on all payable tolls for both cash and fast tag users, and protecting the concessions for disable people, again this was voted down by nine Labour members and the Chairmans casting vote, so the cost for a car rises from £1.40 to £1.50 per crossing.

The increase, effective from the 1st April will generate a further income of over £1.8million for Merseytravel and will also allow a transfer of £4.125 million of surplus tolls to other transport schemes.      The tunnel debt as of today I was told is £67.7 million pounds, measure that against the £70 million pounds Merseytravel squandered on the failed tram scheme, ‘Line One to Knowhere’ 

Labour tell us they are on the side of working people, well guys actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the Labour group on Merseytravel today demonstrated just how much they care about working people.     Today they had  a choice and they chose to add to the economic chaos caused by the last Labour Government.   

Is it time Eric Pickles added Integrated Transport Authorities to his ‘To Do’ list?  Personally I think so, and the sooner the better.     It really is time for change at Merseytravel!   (Enjoy Joe)