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2007 NEWS

2008 to 2013 News   2006 News

Due to other priorities in 2007 only news in January and February was added to the site:-

Sunday 25th February 2007
  • Saturday's Echo had a letter about road pricing from someone in Bootle. The answer is apparently to go back to the Golden days before bus services were deregulated. But if you judge by the way that the authorities run the roads, how would they run the buses any better than the bus companies?

  • Daily Post on Saturday revealed that the charge if you breakdown in the Tunnels is going uo to £72. This is the mininum charge! It is most annoying when you are held up due to a breakdown. But these charges are excessive and higher than at other tolled crossings - at Dartford it is free!

  • Friday's Echo had a letter from Carl Bargh of Hightown who said - "It obviously isn't enough that we pay extortionate fees for vehicle excise, fuel, VAT etc, but now the Government's new suggestions for a "pay per mile" tarriff take the biscuit. It's only a matter of time before we are charged for the air that we breathe"
    There is a lot about the road pricing issue on the News and Road Pricing pages of the NAAT.

  • On Wednesday the Globe gave half a page to a plea "to brick up the Mersey Tunnels!". Fortunately it just seems to be a plug for the play at the Royal Court from 13th July to 25th August. Or is it?

  • Wednesday's Daily Post had a story about a Roads Minister avoiding questions on the tolling of the M62 - "Minister stumped at M62 tolls query". As she was at Widnes, why did they not ask her about the planned tolling of both the existing and proposed Runcorn bridges?

  • Wednesday's Post also gave details of possible disruption caused by repair work to Bidston Viaduct on the M53. The work will be carried out mainly at night - "Key road into city faces closures".

  • Larry Neild in Tuesday's Daily Post had a story about the scrap tolls petition - "6,000 reject tolls - so far".

  • Monday's Echo had a letter from a reader in Aughton who said that Echo editorial "Government must listen"of the 13th on road pricing petition, expressed "the same sentiment as the Mersey Tunnels Users Association i.e. motoring should be free". If only!!!

  • The Globe on Wednesday 14th published this letter from our chairman, Dave Loudon -
    "John R... asks Globe readers (Jan 31st) not to sign our petition to the Prime Minister. He says that if tolls are scrapped then it will "cause untold damage" to the railway and that train jobs will be lost.
    The people who use the train service on Merseyside are subsidised to the extent of about £100 million a year from taxes. Roads users in Britain are not subsidised, they pay about £1,000 million a week in roads taxes and get very little back.
    The Government and others want to tighten the screw on roads users even further and it has just been announced that Manchester plans to introduce "congestion charges" which could be up to £8 a day.The Merseyside districts want to do something similar, but so far the Government has not given them any money for drawing up plans.
    We believe that all these charges are unfair and damage the economy in the areas that are closest to the tolls. If Globe readers agree with us then we ask that they sign the petition which asks the Prime Minister to "Scrap all existing and planned tolls, "road pricing" and so called "congestion charging"." The petition is at - the petition.
    As John Roberts wants tolls kept, perhaps he can start a petition to that effect?"
    PS As far as we know John R... hasn't.

    Wednesday 14th February 2007
  • Our Secretary, John McGoldrick, had this letter in yesterday's Daily Post-
    "Merseytravel said on Friday that they are not increasing tunnels tolls so as to "support the continued economic prosperity of the region".
    Merseyside is the only region with a toll at its heart. It would not only boost the economy but would bring Merseyside businesses and families closer together if the tolls were scrapped completely and the tunnels taken over by the Highways Agency.
    The tunnel users as part of the "National Alliance Against Tolls" have started a petition that asks the Prime Minister to "Scrap all existing and planned tolls, "road pricing" and so called "congestion charging"".
    We urge all those in the North West and North Wales who oppose existing or proposed tolls to sign the petition. You can also find it on a search engine by entering:- scrap all tolls petition."
  • The above letter was partly inspired by Merseytravel's press release on the 9th, after they fixed their budget levy for the coming year - "Merseytravel is maintaining its levy increase for the five district authorities of Merseyside to an average 4.0%. Tunnel tolls will also be maintained at current levels. Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said: "We have maintained tunnel toll charges at their current levels to support the continued economic prosperity of the region.".
    We don't know why they have not increased the tolls. It may be because the councillors fear protests particularly after the phenomenal success of the petition against road pricing, or it could be because there has already been a fall in Tunnel traffic.

  • The "Mr Brocklebank" column in Tuesday's Post had another reference to the city's master congestion plan - "Conspiracy theorists are convinced that activists in the City Centre Movement Strategy (the city roadwork's' Big Dig arm) are creating gridlock as part of a campaign to bring congestion charging to the city. One Leading councillor told Mr Brocklebank the theory is that, in a few year's time, the strategists will demonstrate so much traffic congestion that a London-style charge is the only answer".
    Mr B. is probably right except for the timing - they have already succeeded in making a mess of the traffic. This does not bode well for things like the Grosvenor development or the new King's Dock arena.

  • Pete Price's column on the 8th was headed "Will Big Dig leave us in a hole". He says that Tunnels traffic is down as is bus traffic. He asks "will we ever recover?". The Big Dig will eventually stop, but it is likely that the our elected politicians will have done their best to make sure that drivers will avoid the city.

  • "Brick up the Mersey Tunnels" is returning - Daily Post. We have made a Freedom of Information Act request to the theatre to see if the rumours of sponsorship by Merseytravel are true!!

  • On the 7th February, the Wirral News reported - "£78m bridge plan set for go-ahead". It seems that the Bidston Viaduct is to be repaired yet again. Apart from any disruption effects, there is a worry as to how this is being paid for, as a large part of the cost of the viaduct (its building, repair and maintenance) falls on Tunnel users. Let's hope that they are able to get a grant.

  • There has been a lot in the papers about the subsidy to bus companies for half fares for children being withdrawn. Those writing letters to the papers blame Merseytravel. We don't know whether this is "fair", though we did wonder what was happening on the ferries and trains which Merseytravel are directly responsible for. We have twice suggested that buses should not have to pay tolls, and at secret meetings they have refused this. The reason is apparently that they think this will add to bus company profits. Our view is that it would have encouraged more bus routes to open up, routes that would go beyond Liverpool city centre and attract new passengers. Echo - "Let shareholders pay for our kidsí half-price fares".

  • On Thursday 1st February there was an accident in the Birkenhead tunnel - Post - "Traffic chaos as cars crash in Birkenhead tunnel". There is probably no direct connection in this case, but it seems that a disproportionate number of these accidents happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays - the days when Merseytravel closes half of the Wallasey tunnel from 9.45 AM to 3.30 PM. Why are the local papers apparently not concerned about these closures?

  • On the 17th January the Globe published a letter from our chairman, Dave Loudon, asking users of the Tunnels to sign the petition against ALL tolls. Just to even things up they published a letter on the 31st asking people NOT to sign! apparently if they signed "It would cause untold damage to the first tunnel dug under the Mersey - the railway tunnel!". This was the response from Dave Loudon. Apart from these letters we have had no coverage for the petition in the Wirral papers.

    Sunday 28th January 2007
  • Main news has been what has been happening at the other end of the East Lancs.
    Bosses from the 10 Councils in the Manchester area met on Friday and agreed to bring in "Congestion charging" on most of the roads leading into Manchester city - BBC - "Councils back congestion charge"   Manchester Evening News - "C-Charge: The long road begins"   This is Lancashire   "Debate rages on road charges plan"   "Road charging: Your questions answered"   BBC - "Congestion charge plan for city"   Manchester Evening News - "Up to £8 a day road charge due".
    This is the report that they considered on Friday and this is the map of roads to be charged as per Manchester Evening News website.
    You will not be surprised to hear that the council bosses who agreed to inflict congestion charging on the people all arrived by car, some of them chauffeur driven - Manchester Evening News - "C-Charge: Bosses came by car".

  • On the 18th, the Post and Echo reported some good news for drivers - improvements to the Tarbock island junction on the M62, though they put a negative spin on it - "M-way work to disrupt 2008". Not surprisingly the councilor who is in charge of Liverpool's roads sounded as if he would have preferred the Government to be spending on trains rather than roads.
    Also on the 18th, the Daily Post had a letter from the Greens calling for no spending on roads as it would lead to "congestion".

  • On the 17th the Globe published a letter from our chairman, Dave Loudon, asking users of the Tunnels to sign the petition at - 10 Downing Street. The result of the publication of the letter was that signatures seemed to dry up. So much for the power of the press!

    Monday 15th January 2007
    Some reports and comments from the last few weeks -

  • This report must be one of the best ever, the Globe describes our old friends as the "Tunnels of love". They got this accolade because staff donated £1,500 towards the cost of a projector for a special school.
    To put this in perspective the Tunnels get £35 million a year from tunnels users. So this £1,500 is what they force from us in just 22 minutes.

  • Merseytravel want the Government to give them another £170 million, according to a report on the 12th in the Echo - "Can we have the £170m ?". As far as we know there was never any money promised for the tram scheme, though it was of course widely reported that Tunnels tolls would pay for part of it.

  • On the 11th the Echo reported "Bus lane to hit chaotic Strand". Merseytravel want to make a bus lane on the Strand. They say that this will not come from the space for other road vehicles, but from space that was supposed to be used as a pavement.

  • On the 4th the Echo published a letter expressing "concern" that a car in Birkenhead tunnel on 28th December was driving erratically and swerving between lanes and that it was not stopped by Tunnels police. On the 12th the Echo published a response from Merseytravel. They said that over Xmas and New Year period they stopped more than 1,740 vehicles ... breathalysed 158 drivers ... and (of these) 6 drivers either refused or failed tests". Merseytravel go on to boast about Tunnels safety. We wonder how many of those who know about the vehicle fire at the end of May would agree?

  • Most councillors seem to be anti roads users, but there are exceptions. On the 4th, the Echo published a letter from Steve Radford, a Liverpool councillor. He refers to the "most haphazard efforts of our own highways department to maximise the disruption of routes, most of which previously coped adequately, then to replace them with endless queues and jams." - ("Road congestion" letter).

  • There appeared to be another example of councillors with sense in the Echo on 28th December. It said that Liverpool councillors were considering requiring that property developers provide adequate parking spaces. Though this will "fly in the face of national guidelines" which require that parking spaces be restricted or not provided at all.

  • We reported on the 5th November how Wirral Lib Dem councillors had stopped a turning point for vehicles. The councillors in their latest newsletter now appear to have done a U turn on this decision which effectively created a one way service road with no exit. The same newsletter calls for 20 mph speed limits.

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