Agenda item

Mersey Tunnel Tolls 2019/20

To consider a report to the Transport Committee that: -

 

a)    outlines the legal procedure for revising the level of the tolls;

 

b)    summarises how the current level of tolls was arrived at; and

 

c)    makes proposals for the level of tolls payable in 2018/19.

Minutes:

The Transport Committee considered a report presented by the Head of Customer Delivery, Gary Evans that outlined the legal procedure for revising the level of the tolls, summarised how the current level of tolls were arrived at and made proposals for the level of tolls payable in 2019/20.

 

Members asked questions and commented on the following relating to the Mersey Tunnel Tolls 2019/20 –

·         Clarification on how the Fast Tag was going to be cost neutral and the increase in cost to non-residents of the LCR;

·         What was the historic debt and when it will be paid;

·         Congratulated the Finance Team for balancing the budget and the work done to produce the paperwork; and

·         Congratulated the Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram for delivering the promises made to LCR.

 

Gary Evans informed the Committee that the proposals are cost neutral, as there was an expected reduction in income which was directly offset by an increase in income from non LCR residents with the existing usage continuing. It was also difficult to predict how people would behave and how those people made choices of travel through the tunnels in comparison to ferries, trains and buses. Use of the Tunnels is also dependable on the fuel costs, demographics and other factors. He stated that the historic debt is linked to the Tunnels Act 2004 and is expected to be repaid by 2048. The Tunnels Act states that in 2048, it was up to the Liverpool City Region to decide what happened with the tunnel tolls moving forward.

 

Councillor Steve Foulkes (Finance and Organisational Development Lead) congratulated the Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram as one of the few politicians who has made a manifesto pledge and stuck to it and that this has restored faith in politics. He commented that the actual delivery of the promises puts to bed some of the accusations about the tunnels being a “cash cow” and that there would always need to be some form of income to pay for the tunnels, its operations and maintenance. He stated that residents who lived outside of the Liverpool City Region would not be pleased, but the residents of the Liverpool City Region had built it, maintained it and supported it and its was some good news for the people of the Liverpool City Region and for its economy.

 

Councillor Paul Hayes proposed the following amendment to the recommendations in the report: -

 

  • Add to the end of recommendation a) - “and welcomes any reduction in tolls for residents of the City Region.”
  • Replace recommendation c) with - “This committee expresses concern that in its current form the proposals would mean those who contribute to our public services and local economy, but who happen to live just outside the City Region will have to pay more to get to work. It asks the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to consider this before implementing the schedule of tolls contained in Table 1.”

 

  • Add to the end of recommendation d) - “The Tolls on the Mersey Tunnels harms our local economy. This committee takes this opportunity to express its view that the Mersey Tunnels should be toll free and commits to work with all decision makers to achieve both the political will and resources to achieve this.”

 

There was no seconder, so the amendment fell.

 

The Chair, Councillor Robinson stated that in order to seek support for the amendment, it should have been shared with members of the Committee in advance of the meeting.

 

Councillor Nathalie Nicholas (Tunnels, Highways and Key Route Network Lead) thanked the team for all their hard work and producing the report and wanted to echo the comments made by Councillor Foulkes.

 

The Chair, Councillor Robinson proposed the following amendment which was seconded by Councillor Gordon Friel, to insert at the end of recommendation (d): -

 

“and calls upon the Conservative Government to make good on their manifesto pledges to reduce tunnel tolls for local residents, with the aim of the tunnels being ultimately free to use, and for them to fund this in its entirety.”

 

A vote was taken on the Amendment and it was unanimously agreed.

 

A vote was then taken on the following Substantive recommendations and it was unanimously agreed: -

 

RESOLVED that the Transport Committee:

 

a)    note the contents of this report;

 

b)    note the level of “authorised tolls” for the Mersey Tunnels as determined by the County of Merseyside Act 1980 (as amended by the Tunnels Act 2004), with details on calculation methods explained in section 3 of this report;

 

c)    recommend that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority implement a schedule of tolls contained in Table 1 below with effect from Monday 1 April 2019: -

 


Vehicle Class

Authorised Toll (November RPI)

2019/20 Cash Toll

2019/20 Fast Tag Toll – LCR Resident*

2019/20 Fast Tag Toll – Non LCR Resident

1

£2.00

£1.80

£1.00

£1.80

2

£4.10

£3.60

£2.40

£2.40

3

£6.10

£5.40

£3.60

£3.60

4

£8.20

£7.20

£4.80

£4.80

            *Liverpool City Region (LCR) resident defined as living within the electoral boundaries of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral.

 

d)    recommend that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority continue to offer the discounts set out in paragraph 3.19 of the report for 2019/20 and calls upon the Conservative Government to make good on their manifesto pledges to reduce tunnel tolls for local residents, with the aim of the tunnels being ultimately free to use, and for them to fund this in its entirety.

 

 

Supporting documents: