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A/cs from 1934
Jan 2017 petition to Parliament - "Remove all tolls from the River Mersey"
Mersey Gateway / Runcorn bridge news "Follow Mersey Tunnel Users on Twitter Highways England - major planned roadworks
April 30 - MORE ON CITY MAYOR ELECTION
BBC Politics North West today (video on BBC iplayer) covered the Mayoral election. The coverage starts at 37 mins 35 secs. There was some mention of the tolls, and in particular from 55 minutes into the clip. Steve Rotheram for Labour had declined to take part, and the 'Get The Coppers Off The Jury' candidate also was not there. The 'Trade Union and Socialist Coalition' candidate and the UKIP candidate made it clear that they opposed tolls on the Tunnels and the Mersey Gateway and existing Runcorn bridges and would try to scrap them.
The other four indicated that they would keep the tolls and by implication would do nothing to stop Merseytravel from using the Tunnels as a cash cow. The Lib Dem candidate in his online manifesto says "I will ...Reduce the Mersey tunnel tolls for commuters to and from the Wirral and lobby government to make the tunnel tolls free like that of London." but in the debate it seemed that his main plan was to make tolls payable by use of the 'Walrus' card. The Green candidate would reduce tolls off peak, but increase them during peak periods. The Woman's Equality candidate wanted tolls to be spent on transport servics that would benefit women. The Tory candiadte seemed to be most concerned about Merseytravel having plenty of money without raising taxes, he obviously did not see that the tolls are a tax.
Yesterday UKIP had an anti tolls protest at the Runcorn / Widnes bridge. They also had a protest at the Mersey Tunnels on the 27 March, which even we did not know about. It seems that UKIP or tolls or both are subjects that the local news media prefer to ignore. Or do they think that no one is interested?
April 30 - MYSTERY ACCIDENT
Echo 29 April "Part of Wallasey Tunnel SHUT after "police incident" sparking traffic chaos".
April 30 - HOW LONG?
Echo 28 April "When will the Edge Lane roadworks finish? Delays extended even further".
The simple answer is that drivers are third class citizens and they count for nothing compared with developers of moree shops etc.
April 25 - MORE ON CITY MAYOR ELECTION
# The Returning Officer has recently sent to all electors a booklet which includes election addresses from seven of the eight candidates. Only two candidates use the 't' word.
Roger Bannister the 'Trade Union and Socialist Coalition' candidate says that using "profits from local public transport" to cut tolls is a possibility. It is not clear what this means, as currently the only profits that Merseytravel makes is from the Tunnels and they are using those profits to fund their other schemes.
Paula Walters for UKIP says that she is "in support of UKIP's long standing drive to scrap .. charges for using the Mersey Tunnel, the Runcorn/Widnes bridge and the new Mersey Gateway bridge ... our bridges and tunnels should be ... part of the road network and (financed) through the taxes that we already pay".
# Though there is nothing about tolls in Steve Rotheram's election address, his office have sent us a copy of his 27 page manifesto.
There are three mentions of toll. Under 'Connected' he says on page 21 "... we are the only City Region in Europe where in the future all cross-river traffic movements will be subject to expensive tolls ....... We also need to ensure that our river ceases to be a barrier to movement and commerce and find imaginative and sustainable ways to alleviate the burden of tolls.”
And on page 22 he says "We are the only City Region in Europe where there will
be no free cross-river road routes for residents and businesses. We need to be more flexible and creative in finding ways to remove burdens and barriers to travel and support business growth and ease of movement. This will include plans for a reduction in the fast-tag tunnel fare to £1 and lobbying Government to review the unfair and detrimental impact of current tolling proposals for the Mersey Gateway Bridge."
Reducing the Tag toll from £1.20 but leaving the cash toll at £1.70 would leave Merseytravel still making a vast profit at the expense of users of the Tunnels and we have again written to Steve Rotheram asking what he would do about that.
April 25 - MORE OF SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
Though the Government can't spare a penny to help users of the Tunnels they are to give £1.2 billion pounds to cyclists and walkers (which probably means nearly all of the spending going to the cycling lobby) DfT 21 April "Government publishes £1.2 billion plan to increase cycling and walking".
April 21 - GENERAL ELECTION
On the 19th, the Commons approved the Prime Minister's call for a Parliamentary General Election on Thursday 8 June. It would be nice to think that tolls will be an election issue, but given public apathy and the influence that the trolls have over the news media, it seem most unlikely that this election will have any effect on the looting of drivers by Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region.
April 21 - CITY MAYOR ELECTION
A weeks ago the MTUA contacted all the candidates for Mayor of the Liverpool City Region. We asked for their position on Mersey Tunnels tolls and in particular what they would do about the profits that are made from Tunnels tolls and spent on other things. Only the UKIP candidate - Paula Walters - answered. She said - "I have been campaigning for three years to scrap the tunnel tolls, it comes at the top of my priorities. The loan will not be paid off for years as the money is diverted elsewhere. I am concerned that when the Gateway bridge is open the Runcorn bridge toll will be £2 and our tunnel fee will probably rise in line. If elected I would make the tunnel and Runcorn bridge free...."
We must assume that the other candidates would not only keep the tolls but would continue to use them as a source of cash to subsidise other Merseytravel schemes.
April 21 - DESTROYING BRIDGES
L'pool Echo 20 April "Landmark Wirral bridge cut up and lifted away".
The Echo says that the work is being done for the benefit of drivers. As drivers are usually seen as nothing more than a cash source, it seems more likely that this is being done for the benefit of Peel who seem to own large chunks of Merseyside.
April 21 - TUNNELS ARE CASH FREE - OR SO THE ECHO SEEMS TO THINK
The Echo writes about the new coin and does not mention what must be the biggest one armed bandit / slot machine in the region L'pool Echo 18 April "Can I use the new pound coin in parking meters, vending machines and trolleys?".
April 21 - EVEN THE SHOPS ARE CLOSING
L'pool Echo 17 April "Forty-three shops closed their doors in Liverpool city centre last year".
This region has little real industry and is dominated by speculators and spivs who use dirt cheap money to build shops, houses and student accommodation. Though even dirt cheap money is no use if you are left with empty property.
April 21 - TOLLS DON'T MATTER
At least they don't get a mention - L'pool Echo 16 April "Five reasons you SHOULD be bothered about next month's Metro Mayor election".
April 21 - VERY LATE APRIL FOOL
L'pool Echo 14 April "Imaginary bridge between Liverpool and Isle of Man included in engineering textbook".
April 14 - GOVERNMENT GIVES PROOF OF ITS STUPIDITY
BBC 12 April "Lower Thames Crossing route between Kent and Essex revealed" DfT 12 April "New Lower Thames Crossing to cut congestion and create thousands of jobs" Highways England 12 April "New crossing to provide transport and jobs stimulus".
There is the usual deceipt of not mentioning that the crossing will be tolled and thus the benefit of it will be reduced. It is odd that the crossing will be tunnels rather than a bridge. One of the reasons that they need a new crossing is because the four lanes of tunnels at the existing crossing can not take as much traffic as the four lanes of bridge going in the other direction, because tunnels have a lower speed limit.
April 14 - DROPS IN THE OCEAN
The Government collects over one billion pounds every week from drivers, spends almost nothing on the roads and then seeks mammoth publicity about its miniscule spending. Switch Island is a good example of the inadequate spending, every now and then they waste some money on small schemes when what is obviously needed is a multi level junction - DfT 6 April "Bidding opens for £490 million road funding" DfT 7 April "£3 million to improve journeys and safety at Switch Island".
April 14 - SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
DfT 11 April "Major M5 repair work (on Oldbury viaduct)to start" DfT 11 April "Over £109 million of funding for driverless and low carbon projects" BBC 5 April "PM hints at help for diesel car owners over 'toxin tax'".
April 14 - BUS FARES RISE
The good news is that the expensive cross river fare is frozen - Echo 3 April "Liverpool bus fares go up - catching out many commuters".
April 14 - MAYORAL ELECTION
BBC 5 April "Liverpool City Region mayoral election: Candidates spell out key policies" ITV 29 March "UKIP announce candidate for Liverpool City Region Mayor".
Only two candidates mention tolls. Steve Rotherham for Labour says that he will cut the Tag toll. This implies that he will leave the cash toll at £1.70, there are also reports that he intends to use Tunnel tolls to fund various non Tunnels projects.
Paula Walters says that UKIP want to scrap tolls. There is little chance of that, but if elected she might stop the use of the Tunnels as a cash cow.
April 14 - LIVERPOOL RUSHES IN TO HELP EVERTON
Echo 31 March "Everton stadium: Mayor says 'We're not just funding a billionaire'".
The gullible Echo tells its readers that the City Council will actually make money for taking the risk though the Echo say not to worry because there is no risk! Councils on Merseyside seem to be a pushover for developers.
April 14 - REPORT FROM THE THIEVES AT ANOTHER CROSSING
The Government charge tolls where the M25 crosses the Thames at Dartford. The law under which the crossing was built said the tolls should have stopped by 2003, but tolls are still being charged and since they went cashless there are now also heavy fines. The Government have now published the accounts for 2015-16 which is the first full year since the fines were introduced.
The cost of collecting the tolls and maintaining the crossing was £78 million, the tolls were £108 million and the fines were £53 million. They only expect to collect half the fines, but even so their ill gotten gain is £57 million.
Highways England 29 March "Dartford-Thurrock river crossing charging scheme Accounts 2015 - 2016" pdf.
April 14 - EARLY APRIL FOOL
The Echo putting its telescope to its blind eye finds 46 irritations without mentioning the Tunnels - Echo 25 March "46 things that mildly irritate everyone in Liverpool".
April 14 - DELUSIONS SIX
Echo 14 March "Baltic Triangle and Liverpool's North Docks named Britain's coolest places to live".
March 11 - DELUSIONS FIVE
Echo 10 March "Fast, efficient public transport shouldn't be the stuff of fantasy".
March 9 - BUDGET? WHAT BUDGET?
Yesterday Philip Hammond presented his budget to the Commons. There were almost no significant changes to spending or taxes and the Government is still going further into the red.
Fuel duty remains at 57.95 pence. There was a threat that diesel engined vehicles would pay higher taxes, but for now there is no change and owners of existing diesel engined cars continue to pay, on average, less Vehicle Excise Duty than the owners of petrol engined cars.
There is to be an extra £700 million to be spent on reducing congestion in urban areas. This is a drop in the ocean, and based on previous government initatives almost none of this money will be spent on actually improving roads.
March 9 - MERSEY INVASION?
There have been recent reports about military transport planes and helicopters circling around the Wirral and Mersey area, here is the latest - Echo 7 March "Fishermen on Crosby beach shocked to see Hercules flying low over River Mersey".
March 7 - POSSIBLE BUS CUTS
Echo 6 March "Soccerbus could be AXED under major shake-up of Liverpool bus routes".
March 7 - DELUSIONS FOUR
Echo 6 March "The ambitious Liverpool transport schemes that never saw the light of day - and one that might".
March 7 - GOVERNMENT UP TO THEIR USUAL TRICKS
The Government have been caught hiding the pollution at the Dartford toll crossing by pretending that where the M25 crosses the Thames it is a 'rural' road and so they don't have to report on the air pollution there - Kent Online 6 March "Dartford Crossing not included in assessments of air quality as it was wrongly classed as rural" comments BBC 6 March "Dartford Crossing excluded from pollution assessments".
March 7 - WIRRAL BUDGET AGREED INCLUDING NEW PARKING CHARGES
Wirral Globe 6 March "Five per cent council tax rise on its way for Wirral householders as Labour budget approved".
March 7 - FRENCH TAKE OVER THE VAUXHALL PLANT AT ELLESMERE PORT
Chester Chronicle 6 March "Vauxhall Ellesmere Port future: Analysing the PSA sale as French car giants step in".
March 7 - DELUSIONS THREE
Echo 6 March "Underground train could go from Liverpool to Manchester in SEVEN minutes" Echo 6 March "Pigs might fly - readers don't think superfast underground railway will happen".
Whatever happened to teleporting?
March 7 - DELUSIONS TWO
Echo 5 March "15 ambitious but achievable things that could make Liverpool a better place to live".
No mention of getting rid of the tolls. Instead the Echo wants trams, rail, shops and hotels. They even dig up Merseytravels' anti roads dream of closing the Churchill Way flyover.
Best of all is the picture at the end of the article showing the Mayor and various bigwigs standing by a car - a Mercedes. The ideal car for visiting those people who used to have real jobs making something before the spivs took over the city.
The next day the Echo had readers ideas Echo 6 March "Airport link, fixed roads and gig venues : your ideas to make Liverpool an even better place" which included more 'gig venues', a railway line direct to the airport and a ferry to New Brighton. Though there was a mention of roads - they should 'fix the potholes'.
March 7 - DELUSIONS ONE
Echo 5 March "14 thoughts you have every time you drive through the Mersey tunnels".
The Echo seem to have produced this article with a little help from the screen writers at Merseytravel. One give away is that they don't refer to the 'Birkenhead' and 'Wallasey' tunnels but use the names that almost no one but Merseytravel uses.
There is no mention of Merseytravel using a large part of the tolls to fund various non Tunnels schemes.
They admit that there are traffic queues in the Tunnels, but avoid saying that these are mainly caused by the tolls.
It refers to the spending on safety, but does not say that this spending was nearly 15 years ago when they wanted to boost spending as an excuse to put up the tolls.
March 5 - FANTASTIC IDEA
Echo 5 March "Skyscrapers in the Mersey - designer's stunning vision for linking Liverpool and Birkenhead" y-imby "Pan-Mersey City".
Strange that there is no mention of the main thing that divides the two sides - Tunnels tolls.
March 4 - JOE JOINS ANTI DIESEL CRUSADE
Echo 3 March "Diesel vehicles could be BANNED from entering Liverpool".
More proof that the politicians are mad. Diesels are bad for you but the politicians have been encouraging their use since 2001 by charging lower vehicle excise duty on diesel engined cars. The politicians now seem to think that all of us should and can drive electric cars. That is insane and even if they ever achieved that there would still be a problem as most of the pollution comes from commercial vehicles. Perhaps they have in mind a return to the horse and cart?
Though there may be another plan as one 'Scouser' has suggested that the solution is a "toll or tax" on all cars in the city. With ideas like that, this Scouser must soon be leading one or other of the political parties - Echo 3 March "Diesel-free Liverpool: what do Scousers think of Mayor's plan to cut pollution?".
March 4 - WIRRAL TO BE SHRUNK
Wirral Globe 3 March "Radical plans to axe Wirral parliamentary seat move a step closer".
Liverpool is also to lose one of its five constituencies. The proposals were announced last year, it is in the news again because a second round of consultation has started.
March 4 - BIT MORE ON "ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW" ABOUT RIP-OFF
Echo 3 March "No toll booths on the Mersey Gateway bridge - so how do I pay?".
March 2 - ANOTHER MERSEY TUNNEL?
Liverpool Echo 2 March "Council wants highways bosses to build tunnel from Switch Island to new port of Liverpool".
March 2 - MTUA 'TOLLS PROMISE' LETTER IN WIRRAL NEWS
The Wednesday 1 March edition of the Wirral News has printed a letter that we sent them.
In a recent edition of Wirral News, Margaret Greenwood, the Wirral West MP, said that Steve Rotheram the Labour candidate to be Mayor of the Liverpool City Region "has pledged to reduce Mersey tunnel tolls to £1 for people who live in the region, which is good news for the many people in Wirral who use the tunnels for work, leisure and family visits."
That might be good news if it was honoured - unlike previous tolls promises from local and national politicians. But the Labour candidate has not said that he will reduce tolls for local people.
What he has said is that if elected then he will reduce them for those in the Liverpool City Region who have tags. Most people who use the Tunnels do not have a tag and therefore would not benefit from this.
Whatever happens with this latest promise, the tolls situation on Merseyside will become worse later this year when the bridges between Runcorn and Widnes are tolled.
Someone has started a petition to Parliament calling on the Government to "Remove all tolls from the River Mersey", and I urge all News readers to sign it -
March 2 - WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT? "BEBINGTON BEST PLACE IN ENGLAND"
Liverpool Echo 1 March "This Merseyside town has been declared the best place to live and work in England" Wirral Globe 1 March "Bebington crowned the 'most desirable' place to live in England".
March 2 - "ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW" ABOUT RIP-OFF
Wirral Globe 28 February "TOLLS: All you need to know about crossing the new Mersey Gateway".
As you might guess this story is from a handout from the Mersey trolls. Halton Coicil and Mersey Link seem to be distancing themselves from the tolls as a new dedicated tolls website has been launched called 'Mersey Flow'. In reality this new site has been registered by a French company called "Sanef Tolling". Trade sources say that the tolls are to be operated by yet another French company 'Emovis'. The connection seems to be that these are in fact both part of the 'Abertis' tolling empire which is based in Spain.
March 2 - HIGHER CAR INSURANCE DUE TO WORTHLESS MONEY
BBC 27 February "Insurance premiums 'set to soar' after compensation changes".
It used to be that if someone had a lump sum compensation, then interest would increase the real value of the lump sum. The Government do not otherwise admit that they and the Bank of England are trying to make the pound worthless, but they are now directing that lump sum insurance compensation will have to be increased to reflect the fact that the pound is worth less and less and that real interest rates are negative.
March 2 - NOT REALLY THE 64,000 DOLLAR QUESTION
Echo 26 February "Why does the M62 start at junction 5?".
The real answer is that about 40 years ago the politicians, locally and nationally lost their nerve and gave in to green luddites. Liverpool could have had vastly better radial roads leading to an inner motorway at a very small fraction of what it would cost now - not that these roads will ever be built.
March 2 - ADVICE FROM THE IGNORANT
BBC 25 February "Car buyers should have 'long, hard think' about diesel".
Everyone apart from greens and ignorant politicians has been aware for the last seventy years that diesel engines cause some harmful pollution. With smaller vehicles such as cars, the problem is not as bad as it was due to improvements to engines and exhausts, so it is odd that the politicians have now decided to lock the stable door when they released the horse when the pollution problem was worse.
March 2 - MORE SUBSIDIES FOR THE GREEN AND RICH
Department for Transport 22 February "New measures set out autonomous vehicle insurance and electric vehicle infrastructure".
March 2 - RETURN TO BAD OLD DAYS?
Wirral Globe 21 February "Consultation underway on future of Wirral bus services".
When Merseytravel controlled bus services there were no bus services in the Tunnels. With the changes already made in the law and further powers in a Tory Government Bill currently before Parliament let us hope that Merseytravel don't use their own U-boat to again torpedo buses in the Tunnels.
February 18 - RAIL TUNNEL REOPENED
Merseyrail reopened the rail tunnel from Liverpool to Birkenhead on Monday 13th. There has been little mention of this or its effect in the press. Perhaps it is a ghost tunnel?
Yesterday, the 17th, Merseytravel issued this to the press -
Merseyrail has thanked Wirral line passengers travelling for their patience during the first week of phase 2 of the track renewal work, which has seen trains running in and out of James Street, but with only one platform in use.
Passengers were advised to leave longer for their journeys to allow for queues and to travel out of peak times if possible, and this advice appears to have been heeded. James Street has been very busy between 4pm and 6pm with queuing largely managed inside the station by Merseyrail staff.
Rail journeys should be much smoother next week (from 20th February) when two platforms at the station will be available. Customers, especially those with bikes or with travel needs, are still advised to check the information before they travel at www.merseyrail.gov.uk/trackrenewal
Passengers using the Wirral line at weekends are reminded that there will be rail replacement buses running between Birkenhead and Liverpool station. Throughout phase 2, weekends will see Wirral line trains starting and terminating at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central, and high quality, express rail replacement buses will be in operation to allow passengers to complete their journey across the river.
There will continue to be several options for people travelling across the river at weekends – rail replacement buses, existing cross-river bus services, the Mersey Ferries and even the car. The tunnels are generally proving to be flowing freely at weekends, meaning driving may be an option on Saturday and Sundays without causing congestion.
Special arrangements have been made for the weekends over the Grand National Festival, Easter and the May Bank Holidays, with trains starting and terminating at James Street.
While trains will be back running Monday to Friday, people are still being advised to plan their journeys in advance as services will still be running to the same timetables as during Phase 1 of the works.
February 17 - BLOCK THE ROADS
The authorities are again doing their damnedest to stop and slow traffic, even if it is worse for pedestrians - L'pool Echo 17 February "Child safety fears as bridge at one of Merseyside's busiest roads is set to be removed".
February 17 - ANOTHER BIT OF LIVERPOOL PASSES INTO FOREIGN HANDS
L'pool Echo 16 February "BHS store in Liverpool has a new owner".
February 17 - MERSEYTRAVEL SIGNS TRAIN CONTRACT
The contract has been signed to buy Swiss trains, though a British train firm is still complaining - BBC 16 February "Stadler signs £700m contract for 52 new Merseyrail trains" Derby Telegraph 17 February "Bombardier vows to battle on despite £460m Merseyrail deal".
The news media on Merseyside do not seem to have mentioned the contract signing, possibly because Merseytravel do not want questions asked about where the money is coming from.
February 17 - OUR LETTER IN THE GLOBE
Wirral Globe 15 February "Scrap the Mersey tunnel tolls" letter.
February 17 - PLAN FOR MORE PARKING CHARGES ON THE WIRRAL IS SCALED BACK
Though some suspect that they planned it to turn out this way - Wirral Globe 15 February "End of the road for Wirral on-street parking charge plan as idea is scrapped" lot of comments
L'pool Echo 15 February "Controversial Wirral parking charges scaled back after public outcry".
The fight against parking charges in the 'country' parks goes on - Wirral Globe 15 February "Wirral pay-parking U-turn: Now Labour is urged to drop charge plans at borough's beauty spots".
It is 'interesting' that there were so many signatures on petitions against a million pounds of parking charges, when Merseytavel are taking over 40 million pounds a year from the Tunnels but only about 500 people from Wirral have signed the recent petition to Parliament - "Remove all tolls from the River Mersey".
February 17 - OFFICIAL PRICES ARE UP
The maximum Tunnel tolls are linked to RPI which is up again at 2.6% - BBC 14 February "UK inflation highest since June 2014".
Real inflation is of course higher than the official figures and the aim of the banksters at the Bank of England is to make the pound worth less and less and less, while keeping wages low if they can.
February 17 - POLLUTION WORSE IN TRAINS THAN ROAD VEHICLES
BBC 14 February "Tube 'higher than driving' for air pollution, study finds".
February 17 - M53 ROADWORKS AT JUNCTION 1 TO JUNCTION 2 (WALLASEY TO UPTON)
Work to upgrade the safety barrier in the central reservation between junctions 1 and 2 on the M53 started on Monday (6 February). Lane closures will be in place overnight, with some full carriageway closures later in the project. The scheme is expected to take around a month to complete.
February 11 - TOLL MEETINGS
The MTUA have complained to the City Region authority about what happened at and around the tolls meetings of a week ago - copy of our letter dated 7th.
February 10 - GRIDLOCK
There has been chaos over a wide area for nearly 24 hours. On Thursday evening part of the M53 was closed, and the road was not fully open till about five o'clock this afternoon. The Wallasey Tunnel was closed to traffic coming from Liverpool for part of the time due to congestion near the start of the closed motorway.
There were a lot of news reports. This was one of the latest - L'pool Echo 10 February "M53 motorway closed for 21 hours after man's body was found". This was one of the first reports - L'pool Echo 9 February "M53 closed after discovery of man's body".
February 10 - ANOTHER ACCIDENT ON TOLL APPROACHES
L'pool Echo 8 February "Driver flips Range Rover at Wallasey Tunnel toll booths" Wirral Globe 8 February "Car flipped over at Wallasey tunnel booths".
As usual even when these accidents do get reported, the papers do not make any connection between the toll lanes and the accidents.
February 10 - CITY ICON SOLD OFF
L'pool Echo 8 February "Corestate: Who are the Royal Liver Building's new owners?".
It is typical of the Merseyside mindset that the Echo thinks the Germans taking over the Liver Building "shows confidence in Liverpool". What it really shows is that the people of this area no longer own the businesses that operate here. There is little left to sell off to the developers, banksters and spivs.
FEBRUARY 8 - CROSS RIVER ARMAGEDDON
At last Thursday's meeting of the Merseytravel Committee, one of the councillors congratulated the "wonderful team" at Merseytravel. He said that they had kept the increase in Tunnels journey time down to "fourteen seconds". It is not apparent where this number comes from or what this "wonderful team" have done.
By coincidence that meeting had on its agenda the minutes of the committee for 5th January. On the subject of the "Wirral Slab Track Renewal", the muinutes say that -
"The Mersey Tunnels had been relatively quiet, with the number of journeys down 25% on the first day of the closure when compared to a ‘normal’ Tuesday; however this figure continued to drop over the course of the week. The following week was expected to be busier at the tunnels and on the rail replacements services due to people retuning to work and school after the Christmas and New Year period."
It will be interesting to see what the traffic figures and the delay figures are for the rest of the period of the closure of the under river trains.
February 8 - PETITION IN NEWS
L'ool Echo 7 February "Petition calls for tolls to be ditched on Runcorn-Widnes bridges and Mersey tunnels".
This petition has today gone over 3,000 signatures. The signatures have come from these areas (based on constituencies which is not quite the same as Council areas) - Halton 530, Warrington 510, Wirral 430, Weaver Vale 310, Other Chester & Cheshire West 120, L'pool 260, Sefton 130, St Helens 130, Rest of country 580.
These numbers compare with the 1,850,000 who have signed a petition started about the same time asking Parliament to "Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom". From L'pool there were 13,200 signatures, Wirral 7,650, Halton 1,480. Is this a sign that people are happy to pay tolls or that they have no idea of what is going on in their own backyard?
February 8 - NEAR THE BOTTOM OF THE TABLE
L'ool Echo 7 February "Liverpool has some of the worst levels of adult literacy in the country".
The National Literacy Trust ranked 533 constituencies. Ten of the worst 100 were in the Liverpool City Region - Liverpool Walton was joint 3rd worst, Knowsley was 17th, Liverpool West Derby 21st, Birkenhead was joint 28th, Bootle 34th, Liverpool Wavertree 40th, Garston & Halewood 63rd, Liverpool Riverside 72nd, Wallasey 78th, Halton 87th. Less bad were - St Helens South & Whiston joint 111th, St Helens North 133rd, Warrington North 215th. And some were in the better half - Ellesmere Port and Neston 280th, Southport 301st, Wirral West 320th, Wirral South 332nd, City of Chester 337th, Warrington South 355th, Sefton Central 399th.
The average for the five Liverpool and four Wirral constituencies is 106th worst out of 533.
February 7 - LANE CLOSURES - M53 junction 1 Wallasey to junction 2 Upton
Highways England say that "Work to upgrade the safety barrier in the central reservation between junctions 1 and 2 on the M53 is due to start on Monday 6 February. Lane closures will be in place overnight, with some full carriageway closures later in the project. The scheme is expected to take around a month to complete."
February 7 - LATEST ON PLAN FOR LOTS MORE PARKING CHARGES ON THE WIRRAL
(See also January 20 and 26) - Wirral Globe 7 Febuary "Wirral Council urged to scrap controversial parking charge plan as more than 16,000 sign petition" some comments.
February 6 - NEXT NEW GREEN FOLLY
The Government have recently decided that because of concerns about certain types of pollution that they will cut back on treating diesel cars more favourably than others. Instead they are now "plugging" electric vehicles. It seems that drivers are getting the message - BBC 6 Febuary "Motorists shun diesel cars while eco-friendly sales rise".
"Alternatively-fuelled vehicles" now make up 4 per cent of sales. The main reason for this is that the taxpayer pays for 35% of the cost of the vehicle, the owners don't pay Vehicle Excise Duty or Fuel Duty (unless they are hybrids) and may even be given free electricity. There are even hints that Merseytravel want to exempt them from tolls (presumably financed by putting other tolls up and as long as too many people do not take up the offer). How long will it be before the Government realise that these vehicles make almost no difference to emissions in the UK?
February 6 - STUNNED
The Echo has a feature which includes the Birkenhaed Tunnel and the "Mersey Gateway". They even have a link to our Tunnels History page - L'pool Echo 5 Febuary "Mersey megaprojects - stunning pictures of our iconic landmarks being built".
February 6 - LABOUR PROMISES BILLIONS FOR NORTH WEST TRANSPORT
The Labour Party had an "Economy" conference in Liverpool on Saturday. They promised the Earth for public transport. But there was no mention of the Tunnels cash cow - L'pool Echo 4 Febuary "Labour says it will deliver £10 billion HS3 and cut Liverpool-Manchester journeys to 25 minutes".
February 6 - AMAZINGLY IT SEEMS THAT SOME BRIDGES ARE PROVIDED FOR FREE
BBC 3 Febuary "Flood-hit Tadcaster bridge reopens after 13 months".
February 3 - MERSEYTRAVEL WANTS TO SHUT OUT HOMELESS
L'pool Echo 3 Febuary "Merseytravel moving North John Street doors so homeless people can't sleep in doorway".
February 3 - TAKE A CITY MAYOR, OR TWO, OR THREE
BBC 3 Febuary "Blog: Mulling Merseyside's mercurial mayors".
February 3 - CITY REGION TOLL MEETING
Yesterday it was Merseytravel 'recommending' what the tolls should be, today it was the City Region Council leaders making the decision. Some MTUA members went but we might as well not have bothered, the item went though in under two minutes with no questions and no debate. So the tolls stay as they are and over the next 12 months Merseytravel will pocket another thirteen million pounds of profits.
After the tolls they moved on todeal with their 250 million pound proposed budget for the year starting in April. Again this was done and dusted in less than two minutes - that's about two million pounds a second of non-consideration.
Steve Rotheram, the Labour Partyt candidate for the elected City Region Mayor was sitting in the public seats. We wonder what, if anything, he made of it all.
The Echo report of the meeting - L'pool Echo 3 Febuary "Mersey Tunnel tolls will be FROZEN for next year", quotes what the Merseytravel chairman said at the meeting. They must have been using a Vulcan mind probe, as though the Merseytravel chairman was present he did not speak.
February 2 - MERSEYTRAVEL TOLL MEETING
Some MTUA members went to today's meeting at Mann Island. The brief meeting was filmed by John Brace, the Wirral blogger. Here is his film of the main part of the meeting. Here is his account of the meeting.
Here is what we have to say about the meeting -
As expected the meeting was a piece of theatre as a report that said what had happened to the meeting was written and circulated last week. As usual Merseytravel tried to mislead the users of the Tunnels. It was implied that the tolls were used to maintain the Tunnels and that any profit was needed in case major problems arose. There was no mention of the profit of over £13 million that Merseytravel will be taking from the tolls to spend on other things.
Merseytravel patted themselves on the back for the benefit that they were giving to families on Merseyside by not having tolls on Christmas Day enabling people to visit "relatives and hospitals and stuff like that". It seems that they are quite happy to be Scrooge the other 364 days of the year.
At the Meeting Merseytravel said that "we should never forget that our Tunnels do not receive any finance from Central Government. Particularly when we think about when in 2015 when George Osborne (the ex Chancellor) and Philip Hammond (the new Chancellor) toured the Wirral, particularly, making a number of pledges about how they would be looking at cutting the cost of Tunnel tolls. And, nothing, has come forth from the Conservative Government. And we should never forget that either. So in view of the fact that we don't actually get any Government finance, then on balance charging a toll to those people who use the Tunnel is fairer than it being funded via Council Tax. And that is before we even think about complexities surrounding the Tunnels Act itself. But not withstanding all of those things I am really pleased that we are ...."
This was the pot calling the kettle black, as though the Government are not helping at least they are not the ones who are taking away money from users of the Tunnels to spend on their pet schemes.
Merseytravel also said "We should always remeber that a majority of Tunnel users are using the Fast Tag .. something which is of direct benefit to the majority of users."
In fact, though probably just over half the journeys that are made through the Tunnel do not pay cash, the majority of people who use the Tunnels at some time in the year will NOT have a Fast Tag and they are being used as a cash cow for Merseytravel and the City Region.
February 2 - OUR PLEA TO AUTHORITY BOSSES IN THE PAPER
There is of course the usual non-answer from Merseytravel -
Wirral Globe 2 Febuary "UPDATED: Merseytravel committee votes in favour of tunnel toll freeze" Click L'pool 2 Febuary "Mersey Tunnel Users Demand Scrapped Tolls" L'pool Echo 2 Febuary "Transport chiefs told to remove Mersey Tunnel tolls as they "divide families" ahead of key meetings".
This is the full text of what we said to the papers before the meeting -
The Merseytravel Committee are having their annual budget meeting on Thursday (2nd) and the Liverpool City Region are having their budget meeting the next day (3rd). As well as the budget they are to discuss proposals that tolls for the coming year will stay the same as they are now.
The Mersey Tunnels Users Association (MTUA) say that "the authorities must have access to a time machine" as the tolls report that is going to the meeting on Friday says what happened at Thursdays' meeting even though the meeting has not yet taken place.
More importantly the MTUA say that the authorities are still failing to honour what was said before the General Election. "Both Labour and the Conservatives made various promises about reducing or even removing tolls. Joe Anderson, the Liverpool Mayor, said that using the Tunnel tolls to finance Merseytravel's other activities "was fundamentally wrong" and that “all the profits that are made from the Tunnels should go into driving down the Tunnel tolls costs."
The MTUA claim "Despite what has been said the Tunnels are still making a profit, though you might not know it if you looked at the reports going to the Merseytravel Committee. The authority are not only making a profit but as best we can tell the authority are actually budgeting to increase the profit from an expected £12,747,000 this financial year to £13,260,000 in the year starting in April."
Dave Loudon, the chairman of the MTUA, has written to the members of the Authority saying "We believe that any tolling is unfair and divides families, friends and businesses in our region. The situation is made worse by the Authority continuing to profit from the Tunnels and we ask that you stop the profit taking and that you introduce concessions that will ease the tolls burden on all drivers. There could be a substantial reduction in all tolls and / or the Authority could reconsider some of the suggestions that we have made in the past."
The MTUA suggestions include removing or reducing all tolls at certain times (e.g. evenings) or on certain days (e.g. weekends and public holidays). They also suggest having one way tolls (with the toll in the reverse direction increased) thus "halving the congestion and pollution that is caused by tolling".
The MTUA also point out that earlier this month the Government announced that it would not be honouring its pre election promises that residents from a wide area outside Halton would not have to pay the tolls on the "Mersey Gateway". The bridge is due to open later this year, so within the next 12 months anyone this side of Warrington who wants to cross the river will be forced to pay tolls unless they live in Halton.
February 1 - FAKE NEWS
Wirral News 1 Febuary "The latest news from Margaret Greenwood MP".
The Wirral West MP says that Steve Rotheram the Labour candidate to be Mayor of the Liverpool City Region "has pledged to reduce Mersey tunnel tolls to £1 for people who live in the region, which is good news for the many people in Wirral who use the tunnels for work, leisure and family visits."
We are not sure who would be "local", but in any case the Labour candidate has not said he will reduce tolls for "local" people, he has said that he will reduce them for those in the Liverpool City Region who have tags and most people who use the Tunnels do not have a tag.
January 31 - Hush...Hush TRAINS MYSTERY - TRAIN BUILDER TO GO TO COURT
We reported on the 17 December that Merseytravel were splashing out £469 million on new trains following a meeting where press and public were excluded. What we did not mention was that the trains were to be Swiss built. It now seems that a train builder in Britain is to challenge the decision - L'pool Echo 30 January "Merseytravel's choice for £460 million new trains contract to be challenged in High Court".
January 30 - LETTER TO THE POLITICIANS ABOUT THE TOLLS PLUNDER
Yesterday we sent this letter to the Council Leaders on the City Region Combined Authority.
January 30 - GOVERNMENT RENEGE ON MERSEY 'GATEWAY' TOLL PROMISES
Last week the Government announced that residents outside Halton would have to pay tolls on the Mersey bridges despite what was promised by George Osborne befoore the General Election. You can see a lot more about this on our 'Mersey Gateway' news page
The statement by the Minister seems to have inspired someone to start a new petition to Parliament against ALL the Mersey tolls Parliament petitions "Remove all tolls from the River Mersey".
January 30 - MERSEYTRAVEL SAY THAT THERE IS NO CROSS RIVER ARMAGEDDON
Wirral Globe 28 January "Loop line alternative travel services are 'working well' says Merseytravel chief executive".
If they really want to cause chaos then they could close the Tunnels. About the only thing that stops them doing this is that they would lose their tolls profits:)
January 27 - THE TOLLS PLUNDER TO CONTINUE
The politicians are expected to decide next week that the tolls are not changed, according to a Merseytravel press release yesterday -
Mersey Tunnel tolls could be frozen for 2017/18, with Merseytravel Committee Members asked to recommend to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority that there be no change to charges when they meet next week (Thursday 2nd February).
Should the recommendations be implemented, the Fast Tag toll would stay at £1.20 for car users and the cash toll at £1.70. Therefore, regular tunnel users who pay using the Fast Tag can, once again, save £5 a week compared to paying the cash toll.
2015/16 saw 51% of journeys through the tunnel by Fast Tag– the first year that the majority of travellers have taken advantage of the discount the tag brings.
Other recommendations made in the tunnel tolls report to be considered at the meeting include continuing other initiatives introduced last year - emergency services liveried vehicles receiving free travel through the Mersey Tunnels, as well as free travel for all users between 10pm on 24th December and 6am on 26th December in recognition that public transport services are not available during these times.
Frank Rogers, Interim Chief Executive of Merseytravel, said:
“As always, it is for political members to take a decision on the tunnel toll levels. However, reflecting on the past year, it is encouraging to see people taking advantage of the benefits that a Fast Tag can bring.
For the first time Fast Tag customers now represent the majority of tunnel usage but there are still many more people who can benefit from these savings.”
Fast Tags are available to everyone, not just regular travellers, and are issued free of charge and tunnel users are encouraged to order one. As well as the savings drivers can make, there are also dedicated Fast Tag lanes at each tunnel plaza. Fast Tag offers ‘stored value’ meaning that customers’ money stays in their Fast Tag account until it is used, no matter how long that is.
L'pool Echo 26 January "Mersey Tunnel tolls set to be frozen for the next year" Wirral Globe 26 January "Could tunnel tolls be frozen again? Merseytravel committee to vote next week".
As usual, the public are being deceived. Promises were made two years ago that tolls would be reduced or removed and that Merseytravel would stop making a profit from the tolls. In fact for the coming year they are expecting to make a profit of £13,260,000. This is a bigger profit than they made last year. Not that you would know that from the press reports or even from the Merseytravel budget which shows the Tunnels as just breaking even.
Report going to Merseytravel Cttee on Thursday 2 February 2017 Report going to Combined Authority on Friday 3 February 2017 Map attached to both reports, it shows Fast Tag users.
January 26 - WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The official name of the City Region is "The Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority", though nearly three years ago they decided to call themselves "Liverpool City Region Combined Authority". They have now got round to making this legal and have just published this notice on their website -
"Notice under section 97 of the Local Transport Act 2008 - Change of name to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
The Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority was established by the Halton, Knowsley Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority Order 2014.
On 1 April 2014, in accordance with section 97(1) and (2) of the Local Transport Act 2008, as applied by section 104 (4) of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, the Combined Authority considered a resolution that the Combined Authority change the name by which it is known to Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. On 25 November 2016, in accordance with section 97(3)(a), as applied by section 104(4) of the 2009 Act, of the Local Transport Act 2008, the Combined Authority sent notice of the change of name to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
This notice will be published on the constituent authorities’ websites and offices for a two week period commencing on Thursday, 26 January 2017."
January 26 - MORE ON PLAN FOR LOTS MORE PARKING CHARGES ON THE WIRRAL
(See also January 20) - L'pool Echo 24 January "'Introduce controversial new parking charges - or social workers face the axe'" Wirral Globe 24 January "UPDATE: Councillors clash over controversial parking charges for Wirral as protest petition gains 15,000 names" lots of comments L'pool Echo 24 January "Protest at Wallasey Town Hall over proposed car parking charges - reread"
L'pool Echo 24 January "Wirral parking row: protest will call for council to scrap new charges".
Wirral Council Business Overview And Scrutiny Committee 24 January
2016 "Presentation on the details of the 2017/18 Budget Savings Proposals for Car Parking Charges".
If the plan goes ahead then there will be lots of places in the Wirral directly affected. There will also be an effect on nearby roads which will either have more cars parked there or will be subject to new parking restrictions or new charges. There are various petitions, unfortunately there is no petition which covers all the proposed charges and they seem to be playing political party games.
The petitions with the most signatures are -
Change "car-parking charges at Wirral's Country Parks".
38 Degrees "car-parking charges at Wirral's Country Parks".
Change "parking charges in New Brighton".
38 Degrees "parking charges in New Brighton".
Change "on-road parking charges".
You can also object by 10 February, quoting scheme ref - SA/PS/2017 on this link
- Wirral Council Traffic Scheme Feedback.
Or you could email the Wirral councillors using the links on Our contacts page
January 23 - USELESS PROMISES
The Labour candidate for the region's Mayor says that when elected he will reduce tag tolls to one pound - L'pool Echo 23 January "Rotheram: 'I'll slash Tunnel tolls to £1 for regular commuters'" Click 23 January "Mayor hopeful pledges £1 Mersey-Tunnel tolls".
Even if Steve Rotheram surprised everyone by honouring this promise, it would still leave most drivers paying £1.70 and Merseytravel still making a massive profit.
January 23 - ANOTHER CRASH
As usual we are not told what they think caused the crash - Wirral Globe 20 January "Man taken to hospital after Birkenhead tunnel crash" L'pool Echo 20 January "25-year-old cut free from car after Birkenhead Tunnel crash".
January 20 - PLAN FOR LOTS MORE PARKING CHARGES ON THE WIRRAL
Wirral Council like a lot of councils is facing a financial squeeze. Part of its response is a plan to blanket the Wirral with parking charges - Wirral Globe 19 January "Full list of streets where free parking is about to end as pay-and-display blitz hits Wirral" lots of comments L'pool Echo 15 January "Would paying to park at Wirral country parks be a "tax on the enjoyment of nature"?".
January 20 - DRIVING TIPS
Crashtest "Safe Driving Practices" Help Guide "Safety Tips and Warning Signs for Older Drivers".
You may notice that one tip is "avoid changing lanes". A bit difficult if you are approaching toll booths.
January 20 - CAR TAX CHANGES
From April Vehicle Excise Duty is changing. Diesel cars will only have a tax advantage in the first year after registration. The changes do not affect existing cars , which means that diesels will continue to pay little or no tax, while petrol engines are heavily taxed - DVLA "Vehicle tax (VED)is changing...".
January 20 - OR WOULD YOU BELIEVE THIS (see story below)
L'pool Echo 17 January "The happiest places in UK revealed - and it's bad news for Liverpool.
January 16 - WOULD YOU BELIEVE THIS
L'pool Echo 15 January "Liverpool named the country's top city to find a job in 2017".
The next thing you know thousands of people from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh will be besieging the city and clamouring for better commuter links.
January 16 - BIG PUBLICITY THAT COSTS PEANUTS
Merseyside is to get just over £1 million from the Government for its roads. To put this in perspective, the Government takes ONE BILLION POUNDS A WEEK FROM DRIVERS - L'pool Echo 13 January "Liverpool city region gets cash to fix potholes - but where should it be spent?".
January 16 - PROPOSED NEW TUNNEL
On the 12th the Government started a consultation on building a 1.8 mile tunnel near Stonehenge. There are no plans for tolls - BBC 12 January "Stonehenge tunnel plan finalised by government" Highways England "A303 Stonehenge".
January 5 - CAR SALES UP
BBC 4 January "UK car sales at record high in 2016".
Given the growth in population, it should not be a surprise that car sales are 2% up. Though what is more relevant for our crowded roads is the number of vehicles. At September 2016 there were 37.4 million registered vehicles in Britain, this was 2% more than a year before and 42% up over two decades.
Diesel engines account for nearly half of 2016's car sales. This is partly because Britain's politicians give them favorable tax treatment because they believe that CO2 is a pollutant and ignore the real pollution which comes from diesel engines.
January 5 - DEBT GALORE
Zero Hedge 4 January "Global Debt Hits 325% Of World GDP, Rises To Record $217 Trillion" BBC 4 January "Household debt rises to post-credit crunch high".
The people responsible for encouraging this massive debt and making money out of it are the same ones that like to make money from tolls. Their ideal world would be to magic up some Tunnels debt and then use that as an excuse for increasing the tolls.
January 5 - ANOTHER TUNNELS BEANO FOR CYCLISTS
Merseytravel are again handing one of the tunnels over to their friends for a 'charity' trip for cyclists. As usual the impression is given that all of the money goes to the charity, it is not revealed how much money goes to the organisers.
Liverpool Echo 2 January "Sign up for popular Liverpool Chester charity bike ride".
January 4 - NO TOLLS SUSPENSION, BUT SOME PARKING CHARGES SUSPENDED
Wirral Globe 4 January "Free parking scheme in Birkenhead slammed as 'unfair' by opponents".
January 4 - FAT CATS IN THREE AND A HALF DAYS GET AS MUCH AS WORKERS GET IN A YEAR
BBC 4 January "Executive pay: 'Fat Cat Wednesday' highlighted".
January 3 - CROSS RIVER ARMAGEDDON D DAY
Wirral Globe 4 January "UPDATED: Major travel disruption for Wirral rail commuters as loop line closure begins today" Liverpool Echo 2 January "Wirral line users braced for disruption as track renewal works get under way".
There are NO reports as to what actually happened. One reason for this is that it seemed like a non event, as despite there being no train service under the river, traffic flowed normally through the Tunnels.
There are several possible explanations:
i Most of the people that normally use the trains will have used buses.
ii Merseytravel have been running a phantom train service that costs a lot but carries relatively few people.
iv Today was not a normal day as schools are still closed and some working parents may also be off.
v If they can then people travel earlier or later to avoid the worst of the peak.
vi People did not use the Tunnels because they expected it to be worse.
Or perhaps it is because Merseytravel pulled their fingers out and made sure that the toll booths were fully manned. They usually care little about drivers having to queue but they may have wanted to avoid possible bad publicity following our call for the tolls to be suspended.
This morning a MTUA spokesman was with a Made in Liverpool reporter who was filming at the side of the Wallasey Tunnel approaches. They were asked to leave as they 'were on private property'. Some people might think that the Tunnels were public properety, but of course the toll barons have their own laws to keep the plebs away.
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