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2004 NEWS

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29 December 2004
MTUA Figures
There have been letters in the Daily Post and Liverpool Echo saying that Tunnel tolls are fair, and that car driving costs the nation more than £45 billion yet drivers only repay a third of this.
Even if this were correct, it is a bit puzzling why only users of the Tunnels are supposed to help bridge this gap!
But in any case we wrote to the Daily Post stating that according to the Road Users' Alliance £42.2 billion was collected in taxes from road users in 2002/03, and the spending on roads was £7 billion. "So road users don't have a net cost of £30 billion, they make a net contribution of over £30 billion."
There was then a further letter in the Daily Post saying that the Road Users' Alliance was sponsored by an oil company and that the MTUA ignored the facts.
The Daily Post may have been getting fed up with this issue and didn't publish our reply. So for the record this is where the disputed figures come from:-

The £42.2 billion is total of:- Fuel tax of £22.1 bn, from Customs and Excise Annual Report 2002-03;
Vehicle Excise Duty of £4.6 bn from Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Annual Accounts 02-03;
VAT on vehicles of £6.8 bn based on new car registrations (average car price £15,000) and estimated 2nd hand car sales - DVLA and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders;
VAT on Fuel of £5.6 bn from UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) correspondence, (quoted as "around £6bn" in UKPIA Statistical Review 2004);
Company Car Tax of £3.1 bn from Inland Revenue website - Table 4.5 Benefits in kind.
The £7 billion Government spending on roads is from table 1.15 Transport Statistics Great Britain 2003 published by Department for Transport.

21 December 2004
Skye Tolls vanish
skatdemo It is now official that the Skye Bridge tolls have gone, with immediate effect.
This is a great victory for the people of Skye and Kyle who have fought the tolls for 9 years.
Will Merseyside be going one way, while Scotland goes the other?
SKAT reaction (and photos)
BBC - "Tolls abolished for Skye Bridge "
MTUA Press Release
Scottish Executive Press Release

HGV's to Fly?
We are not sure whether this is meant to scare us. But the Daily Post today reported that the Highways Agency may decide that there may be yet more road works on the Bidston Viaduct (link betweem M53 and the Wallasey Tunnel approaches).
They are talking about banning HGVs. It isn't clear whether they are supposed to sprout wings or use the Runcorn Bridge, (currently the authorities won't let HGVs use the Birkenhead Tunnel):-    HGV ban threat to Mersey economy

9 December 2004
Tolls on Runcorn Bridges
There has been more about the Bridges from the Daily Post:-    Countdown to D-Day for £335m bid for second Mersey crossing
  and Simon Drury in the Weekly News:-  For whom the bridge tolls
It seems that they are trying to soften us up to the idea of tolls. We are alarmed and sent out the following press release:- The existing bridge was opened in 1961 and its 4 lanes carry nearly 30 million vehicles a year. There have been proposals for a further bridge for many years.
It was expected that the go ahead for the bridge would have been given in December 2003. But it was delayed, partly to look at the effect of tolling.

When the new bridge is open, the intention is that the existing bridge will be reduced to 2 lanes to make more room for cyclists and walkers.
It is suggested that "locals" will get a discount.

A spokesman for the Mersey Tunnels Users Association, member of the National Alliance Against Tolls said:-

"We are horrified that instead of improving movement between the 2 sides of the Mersey they will stifle it though tolls."

"If a new bridge is privately financed and managed then there will be only 2 gainers. One will be the private company that will collect the tolls. The other will be the Government who will have avoided spending a bit more of the road users money on what it should be spent on - the roads."

"The cost of this so called "Second" crossing seems way over the top. The original Engineer's estimate said that it would cost just over £200 million, but we are now being quoted figures up to £750 million."

"The cost of building the existing bridge was mainly met by the government with the balance being met by Lancashire and Cheshire County Councils. Why should road users now have to pay a toll to use this? That is if they can get across when they close half of it off."

"The original economic case for a new bridge was made on the basis that it would not be tolled. When a road is tolled, there is less benefit as less people will use it. So is a new bridge still justified?"

"The tolls will encourage more traffic to use the Warrington bridges or Thelwell viaduct. Are they next to be tolled?"

"The MTUA urge all Merseysiders to make it clear to the local politicians that they do not want tolls."
Eric Munn in this week's Wirral Globe has highlighted the effect of tolls on people crossing the river to hospitals for treatment or visiting patients:-    'Tunnels should be free for patients'

1 December 2004
Support for Proposals
According to a letter in today's Daily Post, Cllr Anderson (leader of Liverpool Labour Group) who was earlier reported by the Daily Post as backing our proposals is now "fully behind Merseytravel".
We believe that our proposals still have the support of Mike Storey, the leader of Liverpool City Council and Steve Radford, the leader of the Liverpool Liberal Group.

Runcorn Bridge
Yesterday and today there have been more stories about the proposed new bridge:-    Traffic chaos looms without new crossing

There still seems to be a well organised campaign for it, but it now looks as if a decision on it will be further delayed. We have of course suggested that our proposals for tunnels tolls, would help to relieve congestion in the years before any new bridge is built.
It also looks increasing likely that the new bridge and possibly the existing bridge will be tolled. According to the news release on the official site, tolling is being reccommended by Halton Council:-    Mersey "Gateway" News Release 30 November

The recommendation for tolling is not a surprise, as to a large extent those supporting a new bridge are the same people who have wanted higher Tunnels tolls.
Halton's recommendation says that there should be "a substantial discount for local cars and light vehicles, and a frequent user discount for HGVs, both of which should keep the cost of crossing the bridge as low as possible for local users." Is this an idea that the authorities intend to apply to the Mersey Tunnels?

24 November 2004
Liverpool Chamber of Commerce
A committee of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce today met to consider our proposals:-    Pressure grows for lower tunnel tolls
The committee referred the proposals to a meeting of the full chamber next week.

22 November 2004
Liverpool councillors
Last week we contacted the Liverpool councillors asking for support for our proposals:-    Pressure grows for tunnel tolls cut

15 November 2004
Body Armour
According to today's Daily Post, the Tunnels police are to be issued with body armour. The MTUA has no view on this, but it again raises the question of why the Tunnels have their own police force. The Tunnels link the 2 parts of the Merseyside Police area, so why don't the Tunnels come under them?
As far as we know, the Tunnels are the only road in Britain with its own police force.

5 November 2004
A New Way Forward For Tunnels and the Runcorn Bridge
Today the Daily Post carried another story about the proposed new Runcorn Bridge:-    Bridge chaos firms could quit Mersey
The editorial backs the demands for the bridge and says "efficient road communications are the lifeblood of a thriving local economy".
We agree that we need efficient road communications, but we wonder why there is this emphasis on the east end of the Mersey, while the authorities are apparently doing their best to stifle traffic between Liverpool and the Wirral at the west end of the Mersey.
We also wonder why those backing a new bridge are not also backing our "New Way Forward for the Tunnels" as the Tunnels currently only carry the same amount of traffic as the bridge but have twice as many lanes.

Defeat for Regional Assembly in North East
What's this got to do with the Tunnels?
The answer is that the people who want to bring in more civil servants and politicians etc are in general the same people who want to keep Tunnel tolls and increase them.
Why is this?
We can only wonder why.

29 October 2004
A New Way Forward For Tunnels
Support for the proposals (see 20 October) has come from the AA Motoring Trust. They also opposed the Mersey Tunnels Bill.
On the other hand, it appears that most Wirral councillors do not support the plans:-    Toll-free Sunday is given cold-shoulder

23 October 2004
A New Way Forward For Tunnels
Support for the proposals (see 20 October) has come from the Forum of Private Business:-    FPB welcomes fresh debate on Mersey tunnel toll charges

Top of the List
We were interested to see that the MP who sponsored the Tunnels Bill was this week top of the list for MP's expenses:-    Most-expensive MP says the £168,889 was for constituents For £168,889 we reckon you could make 70,370 round trips through the Tunnels. Though you would need to be quick as that's 8 every hour.

20 October 2004
A New Way Forward For Tunnels
We have made proposals for how Tunnels Tolls could be improved for the benefit of both users and the local economy in Liverpool and on the Wirral:-

a) The 20 pence increase that they could have under the Mersey Tunnels "Bill" should not go ahead.

b) Off peak tolls should be reduced to half the normal charge.

c) Sundays should be completely free.

d) Buses should not pay tolls.
The proposals are backed by MPs including Frank Field and Stephen Hesford, and by Mike Storey -the Leader of Liverpool City Council:-    MP backs free use of tunnel on Sundays
You can see more about the proposals here:-    Blueprint for Tolls

15 October 2004
Where has European money gone?
Merseyside benefited from European Objective One spending in a programme that went from 1994 to 2000. And is now in the middle of a second programme going from 2000 to 2006. Each programme consists of nearly £1 billion in EU money, matched by a similar amount from UK government monies.
When the first programme was announced in 1993 it was expected that a large proportion would be spent on infrastructure, including a new high level road bridge linking Liverpool and Wirral, and on other new roads.
Professor Patrick Minford, an economist at the University of Liverpool, wanted the money to be spent on new roads and preparing brownfield sites for inward investment schemes.
Why raise this now? Well £37 million of the money that was to be spent on the aborted "Cloud" scheme at the Pier Head has just been reallocated, and £3.5 million is to be spent on part of the Edge Lane "corridor" that links the M62 to Liverpool city centre and the Tunnels.
Would it not be nice to know why almost none of the rest of the £billions will have been spent on roads.

Deja vu? M53 Junction 1 Road works
Junction One is to be disrupted again from Monday 18th October. You may remember the closures here earlier this year.
This time one carriageway is to be closed till Christmas due to "the carriageway deteriorating .. following excessive rainfall over the summer months".

New Runcorn Bridge
Since we last mentioned the proposed new bridge on 22 July there have been further reports about it in the Liverpool Daily Post. There seems to be a powerful lobby pressing for the bridge to be built. For some bizarre reason, many of them are the same people who campaigned for increases in Mersey Tunnels tolls. Though when it comes to the proposed new bridge, they seem to be split between 2 camps:- those who want it to be free and those (well off?) that don't mind if it's tolled. The only thing that seems to be certain is that the Government will again delay a decision. It was to be made last year, then it was to be late this year, and now it looks like 2005.
No doubt those who want it to be free, will have their fingers crossed that a decision will be announced before the General Election.

8 October 2004
Push bikes through the Tunnels?
In last Saturday's Liverpool Echo, a reader asked if anyone remembered pedal bikes using the Tunnel. A few readers later wrote in with their memories of cycling through the Birkenhead Tunnel. But how many people know that at one time, it was intended that you could walk through the Tunnel!
The Mersey Tunnel Act 1925 specified that the toll for a pedestrian would be 2 pence (pre decimal money). But workmen would get a bargain, as they were entitled to get a return ticket for 3 pence. As far as we know this toll was never applied, as you have only been allowed to walk through the Tunnel on a few special occassions.

Trams rumble on
Some of the Labour MPs and councillors in Liverpool, have complained about Liverpool City Council raising (and then later dropping) questions about the routes to be used:-    Tram plan "disaster"
Time will tell whether even with a grant the trams will be a success as far as the general public are concerned. But Tunnels users are concerned about the traffic problems that may be caused by putting the clock back 50 years or so, with the demolition of one of the Liverpool Tunnels flyovers and the routing of trams past the Tunnels entrance.

17 September 2004
The local authorities are arranging another one of their own "Boycotts" i.e "European Car Free Day" on Wednesday 22 September.
Hopefully this year there will be less chaos than last year:-    Euro Car Free Day brings city centre to standstill

15 September 2004
Long time, no see
We have been "off the air" for the last month. But we haven't given up!
To a large extent we are now working through the NAAT to see all tolls scrapped.
You can see what is happening at:-    NATIONAL ALLIANCE AGAINST TOLLS

The main event over the last month was probably the Boycott "that never was" on Wednesday 8 September. We know that many people did boycott the Tunnels, but vast majority did use the Tunnels, either because they had no choice or because they knew nothing about it. We will be thinking about how we can get more advance publicity for the next Boycott and make it a more effective protest.

The draft Tunnels accounts for the year ended March 2004, show Tolls of over £33 million. After operational expenses and repayment of external debts, the Tunnels had a surplus of £12.4 million. Of this £3.7 million goes to "levy repayment", £4.5 million has been used to finance capital expenditure and £4.2 million has been transferred to Tunnels reserves.

Towards the end of August there was a campaign demanding a second Runcorn bridge. The calls for the bridge seemed to be coming from businesses, and there was little mention of the question of tolls.
Most of us realise that something must be done about the congestion on the Runcorn bridge. But we don't want tolls, and neither do most businesses and people (see news item on 22 July).

22 July 2004
New Runcorn Bridge
There was a story today on the long delayed new crossing of the Mersey at Runcorn:-  Bridge fee could be death toll for firms
Before the Mersey Tunnels Act completed its passage at the end of June, we suggested that there could be a domino effect on the other Mersey crossings.
Oddly many of those who wanted higher Mersey Tunnels tolls wanted the new Runcorn bridge to be free.
The postponed decision on the new bridge should be announced later this year. We have no idea what the decision will be, but wouldn't be surprised if the question of tolling was deferred.
Even they must know that tolling doesn't make sense.

18 July 2004
cake Happy Birthday?      Today is the 70th anniversary of the official opening of the first Mersey Tunnel between Liverpool and Birkenhead.
How many of them present would have suspected that 70 years later there would still be tolls.
Though one 5 year old who was there voted for the Mersey Tunnels Bill in June. Perhaps he was too young to hear the promises that one day they would be free. The 5 year old may also have missed the real opening of the tunnel to traffic on 17 December 1933.

13 July 2004
Following our joining with other anti toll groups as the National Alliance Against Tolls there is now a new website at:-  NO TOLLS
Now that the Mersey Tunnels Bill has been passed this is our best chance of stopping further misery for Merseysiders. We will be campaigning for the complete abolition of all tolls.
The Government seem to be working in the opposite direction! Though the Roads Minister was interviewed on ITV last night by Trevor McDonald and he denied that there were any proposals for more toll roads.
In the short term the MTUA will be lobbying to try and stop unneccesary Mersey Tunnels toll increases being inflicted on us.
A National Boycott of ALL Toll roads is planned for Wednesday 8th September, please tell all your friends and relations. And don't forget the cat!.

6 July 2004
Last night the BBC revealed that the Government were about to announce A NEW STRETCH OF TOLL ROAD.
The M6 was due to be widened between Junction 11 at Cannock, north of Birmingham and Junction 20a, the M56.
It is now proposed that there will be a pair of 2 lane roads built either side of the existing M6, but that these will be tolled.
Who's turn will it be next?
See story on BBC:-  Toll on M6 widening
See Press release:-  Government Press Release

5 July 2004
Those who want to inflict higher tolls on those travelling between Liverpool and the Wirral, sometimes try and justify this on the grounds that it will reduce AIR POLLUTION.
It is strange that cars travelling from say Sefton or Wigan to Liverpool don't generate any pollution. But in any case, what is the significance of cars in terms of overall pollution?
We suggest that you look at this item that was written by Lance Green from the Association of British Drivers and is on the CarNetNews website:-  
Cars and Air Pollution


30 June 2004
The Third Reading of the Mersey Tunnels Bill took place in the House of Lords on Monday night (28th June).
On the Monday morning there was a banner over the approach to the Wallasey Tunnel protesting against Toll increases.
Opposition to the Bill was organised by David Hunt and various local peers including:- Lyndon Harrison, Michael Chan, and David Alton. Despite their brilliant efforts, the Bill was carried by 75 votes to 65.

For the Bill were 51 Labour (including 8 Ministers), 21 Lib Dems, 2 Cross Benchers and 1 Green.
On our side were 54 Conservatives, 6 Cross Benchers, 2 Independent Conservatives, 2 Labour and 1 Lib Dem.
The full list of the Peers voting on our side is:-

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, Baroness Blatch, Baroness Carnegy of Lour, Baroness Fookes, Baroness Miller of Hendon, Baroness Noakes, Baroness O'Cathain, Baroness Seccombe, Baroness Sharples, Baroness Wilcox, Duke of Montrose, Earl Attlee, Earl of Dundee, Earl of Home, Earl of Liverpool, Earl of Northesk, Earl of Onslow, Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Astor of Hever, Lord Biffen, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, Lord Brougham and Vaux, Lord Colwyn, Lord Cope of Berkeley, Lord Cuckney, Lord Denham, Lord Dixon-Smith, Lord Elton, Lord Gray of Contin, Lord Hayhoe, Lord Henley, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, Lord Hunt of Wirral, Lord Kalms, Lord Kimball, Lord King of Bridgwater, Lord Luke, Lord Mancroft, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, Lord McColl of Dulwich, Lord Monro of Langholm, Lord Northbrook, Lord Norton of Louth, Lord Patten, Lord Renton, Lord Roberts of Conwy, Lord Shaw of Northstead, Lord Skelmersdale, Lord Tebbit, Lord Waddington, Lord Wakeham, Lord Wolfson of Sunningdale, Viscount Bridgeman, Viscount Ullswater.

Cross Bench:-
Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Chan, Lord Greenway, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, Lord Stevens of Ludgate, Viscount Allenby of Megiddo.

Independent Conservative:-
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, Lord Willoughby de Broke.

Lord Harrison, Lord Jones.

Liberal Democrat:-
Lord Thomas of Gresford.

We are amazed by the Liberal Democrats support for this Bill which will hit Liverpool and the Wirral. Without Liberal Democrat support this Bill would have been defeated. Yet elsewhere in Britain, the Liberal Democrats have been opposing tolls!
Adding to the strangeness of the Liberal Democrats position was that they were told by Lord Hunt that Mike Storey, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Liverpool City Council was personally opposed to the Bill. But with the notable exception of Lord Thomas, these Liberal Democrats preferred to go with the Bill's sponsor, who is the Labour leader of a Greater Manchester council.
That council by the way is pressing for a new road (A5225) going across their Borough to the M6. The road will cost £75 million, but they don't seem to be suggesting that it should be tolled.
Some of the supporters of the Bill are also calling for another bridge between Runcorn and Widnes, and they want it to be free.
It seems that tolls are only a good idea if they are inflicted upon people travelling between Liverpool and the Wirral!

During the debate, the supporters of the Bill said that it might not be as bad as was feared, because Merseytravel might decide not to use the full powers that they were going to give them. But we can only go by the "illustrative figures" that Merseytravel gave to the Lords. Based on the RPI formula and assuming annual RPI increases of 2.5%, the car toll would go up to £1.40 in April 2005, and there would be rises of another 10p every few years thereafter, so that by 2028 the one way toll would be £2.40.
Over the next 25 years, they estimated that they could collect £1,200 million in tolls.

Some of the peers voting for the Bill may have been under an illusion that typical users of the Tunnels drive Bentleys and scatter £50 notes around.
But you can see the report of the full debate at:-   Lords Third Reading debate
When you reach the bottom of a page click on "Next section".
David Hunt had tabled a series of amendments. That were debated but then withdrawn one by one. There was then the final vote on the Bill.

We will continue to try and strengthen the National Alliance Against Tolls. It is likely that there will be a call for a national boycot of toll roads in September.

24 June 2004


Our sympathies to England football team for a valiant effort.
We hope that we will have tried as hard, though the odds against us may be even greater.

The third reading is now to be on Monday 28th February.
It will probably start about 8PM and may last for 2 hours.
You can watch the debate live on the web:-   Watch debate
For the Mersey Tunnels debate, you should select Lords (not Commons) and then click on "Watch Now".

The demonstration has been called off. After Monday we will review the situation.

We are trying to extend the National Alliance Against Tolls. If this Bill is passed this may be our only hope.

In March Merseytravel gave figures to the Lords Committee showing what might happen to Tolls if the Bill becomes law, assuming current rates of inflation and that they apply the increase. We have prepared the graph below to show the effect.
The toll for cars was 10 pence in January 1971. It is now £1.20.
It will go up to £1.40 in April 2005, and will have doubled to £2.40 by 2028.
And of course, unlike some other crossings, the tolls are charged both ways.


3 June 2004
We have joined with other anti toll groups as: "National Alliance Against Tolls"
One of the groups is SKAT who have been campaigning against tolls on the Skye Bridge.
It was announced today in Scottish Parliament that the Skye tolls are to be abolished.
You can see the story at:-   Skye Bridge Tolls
You can go to their website from there or our own Links page.
petrol We are taking an interest in the current upset over petrol price increases.
It remains to be seen what will happen with pump prices and the 2 pence extra tax per litre that is due later this year.
But a regular user of the Tunnels is already paying about £600 a year in tolls.
If only using the car for personal use, they will buy about 1,000 litres of petrol a year.
Thank you to all those who took part in the tunnels BOYCOTT on 31 May.
You can see a bit about it at:-   Tunnels Boycott DATE for the Third Reading of the Bill in the Lords had been POSTPONED from Wednesday 26th May.

On 17th May we issued a press release. Click here to see it:-   17th May press release

15 May 2004
We had a leafleting blitz today in Birkenhead shopping centre.

On Tuesday 11th there was a debate in the Commons about the proposed new bridge at Runcorn. It was bizarre to see some of the MPs, who have been campaigning so hard for increases in Mersey Tunnel tolls, now want to see a new bridge at Runcorn. Even odder is that it seems that they want the new bridge to be free! You can see the debate at:  Bridge Debate

As you hopefully already know we are planning a Tunnels boycott for Monday 31 May (bank holiday), and there is likely to be a boycott on the Severn crossings on the same day. PLEASE PLAN AHEAD TO AVOID CROSSING THE RIVER THAT DAY!

The trams inquiry in Liverpool has been rumbling on.

30 April 2004
We are continuing to have discussions with other toll protest groups.
The Skye group (SKAT) are holding a non payment day on 1 May. We wish them well, and hopefully no one will go to jail!
In the North East there has been a call for a boycott of the Tyne Tunnel on Monday 3 May (the bank holiday). We are planning a similar boycott for Monday 31 May.

An inquiry is being held into the proposed new tram sytem in Liverpool. There are various objections. We have not objected though Tunnel users will be doubly hit if the scheme goes ahead. Firstly, if the Tunnel Bill is passed they may be using Tunnels tolls to help pay for the trams. Secondly they are planning that one of the Tunnel flyovers in Liverpool will be demolished and that trams will run past the Tunnel entrance. Whatever next?

14 April 2004
Since the Lords committee, things have been quiet. We had hoped that the local papers would be campaigning against the Bill and the BBC were going to do a feature on our campaign. Instead you may have got the impression that our campaign has given up. But we intend to carry on till the finishing post. David Hunt is contacting other Lords with a view to amending or stopping the Bill at Third Reading.

We have however been considering what we will do if the Bill becomes law. One thing we are already doing is contacting other organisations with a view to a national campaign against all toll roads. In the meantime the General meeting has been postponed till after the Third reading.

8 and 9 March 2004
Lords Committee

outside Four of us went down to Parliament for the Lords committee. We were somewhat outnumbered by the Merseytravel party.
The Committee had the power to stop the Bill or to send it back (as submitted or as amended by the Committee) to the Lords for a final reading.
Despite the smiles at the start of the first day, we realised that there was little chance of convincing the committee. But we gave it our best and thought that our case was so strong that it would convince anyone that this Bill was unneccesary, unfair and unwanted. But the committee let the Bill through, apart from a few undertakings.
You can see our Petition at:  Petition to Lords
You can see a summary of what happened at:  Lords Cttee
And what we said to the Committee at:  What we said!
And a full account of the 2 days at:  Lords - Committee 8 March 2004  and 9 March 2004

28 February 2004
Recruiting in Grange Road. Again!!

Grange Thanks to all those, including Ben Chapman MP *, who helped recruiting on another cold day (Tranmere game was cancelled due to frozen pitch). And welcome to all those who joined.
This was our last recruiting day, and with members who joined over the web in next few days took us up to 4,600 members. Most of our recruiting has been done in Birkenhead, but members are from a wide area.
Not all members are car drivers, we have bus, lorry, and taxi drivers. We also have members who are motorcyclists or disabled. They don't pay the tolls, but they support us because they believe that the system is not fair, and because they are indirectly affected due to the effect on the economy and because tolls discourage friends and relations from visiting.
To succeed we need the support of as many people as possible. So if you are not yet a member, then join us! There are no fees or obligations, and it will only take 2 minutes of your time! The more of us the better!

animlogo * Ben Chapman said this while the Bill was going through the Commons:-

"It has been claimed that the well off are subsidized by the poor. It is obviously true that the bulk of tunnel traffic originates on the Wirral side but tunnel usage is by people who need to use them and is generally by ordinary working people, maybe on shift work. They travel in order to contribute to the Merseyside economy... Everyone will be investing their efforts and maybe their resources in supporting or creating employment and wealth.
I do not believe that there is a direct relationship between traffic flow and benefit or that somehow those closest to the Tunnel benefit more than those removed from it. Travel to work patterns are extensive and interlinked. All of Merseyside (and beyond) benefits from Tunnel use and all of it would suffer if this Bill went through.
It is not just for work that people use the Tunnels. Many people from the Wirral travel to leisure facilities and to football matches. People from Southport may go to North Wales and people from North Wales may go to the Philharmonic.
One side of the Mersey depends on the other; there is a mutuality of interests. A considerable flow of commercial traffic goes through the Tunnels between the docks and in taking goods to and from Knowsley, Southport, Skelmersdale or wherever...

21 February 2004
Recruiting in Grange Road
Grange Thanks to all those who helped recruiting on another cold day, and to all those who signed on.

The day before the Liverpool Echo revealed that Mersey Tunnels bosses had been offering advice on tolling of the proposed new Runcorn Bridge. At this rate there will be a complete Toll barrier between the 2 sides of the Mersey.

9 February 2004
Tunnels Bill second reading in Lords

lords Tunnels Bill had its second reading in the Lords and has been passed to a Committee. Merseytravel managed to persuade various Lords (led by Lord Smith from GREATER MANCHESTER) to speak in favour of the Bill. What most of them had in common was that they know little about Merseyside or paying tolls day after day. Perhaps they will soon be moving here to enjoy the benefits of tolls!

lordhunt Two local lords did a brilliant job of showing what a bad bill this is. They are David Hunt, (former Conservative MP for Wirral West), and Lyndon Harrison, (former Labour MEP for Wirral & West Cheshire). lordharrison

At the end of the debate there was a divison over a motion by Lord Hunt that instructed the Committee to consider various things. Merseytravel won the division by 27 votes to 26.
The MTUA will still be doing its best to ensure that the Committee knows all the facts. We believe that any one who does so will reject this Bill.
The last Private Bill stopped by the Lords was in 1987. But it shows that it can be done.

31 January 2004
Lord Hunt leads opposition in Lords

lordhunt People who use the Tunnels are very grateful to Lord Hunt of Wirral. Now that the Mersey Tunnels Private Bill has moved to the Lords, he is working hard to ensure that those who are opposed to the Bill will get a fair hearing.

In November, the Daily Post quoted him "This Bill was expected to just pass through the Lords but because I have opposed it there will have to be a proper debate. It's in its early stages but I will do my best to get it stopped."

Recruitment Day in Heswall
Thank you to all those who helped or joined us.
Lord Smith to sponsor Bill
The Mersey Tunnels Bill is being sponsored by Lord Smith of Leigh, the leader of Wigan City Council. It is rather strange that a Manchester peer is sponsoring the Bill when to the best of our knowledge there are no tolls in the Manchester area (or at least not yet).
We are pleased that a Lord from the Merseyside area is not sponsoring a Bill which we believe is not in the interests of Merseysiders, as tolls will tend to have an aadverse effect on the economy.

Pete Price Phone Ins pete
Thanks to Pete Price who has shown his support on his late night phone ins on Radio Magic 1548 AM and Radio City 96.7FM
Pete says "... MTUA gives the ordinary people a chance to make their voice heard and deserves support from those who care about this issue. If people are against the tolls and toll increases then they are right to do something about it, because it is only when the Government and councillors understand the level of feeling that they will really take notice."

9 January 2004
dft The Toll increase for April that Merseytravel applied for has been delayed or abandoned.
MTUA and others put in objections during the consultation period which ended on 3 March 2003. It was expected that a Public Inquiry would have taken place by last September, and we and Ben Chapman MP and Frank Field MP have been asking the Department for Transport to explain the delay. Frank Field has now been told that there will be no Inquiry as the application for an increase has been abandoned. Safety work was the reason given for the Toll increase. It now appears that the cost of any such work will be met by borrowing.

Though stopping this increase is a victory for all users of the Tunnels, it is not the end. Merseytravel will still be expecting to get their Bill through Parliament and get their increase that way.

The Department for Transport also announced today that a new bridge will be built across the Thames at east end of London. The bridge is estimated to cost £450 million. It will have a toll, but it appears that it will receive a large subsidy.

Other groups protesting against tolls

We have been making contact with other groups in Britain and overseas.
You can see some of these from our Links page.
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