5,000 signatures reached
To: Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party and Mayor of Liverpool City Region
Scrap Mersey Tolls
Scrap ALL the tolls to cross the Mersey in the Liverpool City Region.
Why is this important?
With the opening of the tolled Mersey Gateway Bridge, and the tolling of the Silver Jubilee Bridge and the Mersey Tunnels, there are now four toll ‘barriers’ along a substantial length of the Mersey which effectively divide the Region into two. These toll barriers damage both the local and wider economies and divide communities, families and friends.
As the City Mayor said in his election manifesto of April 2017 “We are the only City Region in Europe where in the future all cross-river traffic movements will be subject to expensive tolls...… we need to ensure that our river ceases to be a barrier to movement and commerce.”
The region has been subjected to tolls since the end of 1933, when the tunnel from Birkenhead to Liverpool was opened to traffic. The £7 million cost of the tunnel was supposed to be shared between the Government, the local authorities and the users of the tunnels. The tolls were only intended to be for a limited period and should have ended before 1950. They did not.
A second tunnel was opened in 1971, the twin-tube tunnel between Wallasey and Liverpool, at a cost of £37 million. This too was tolled and both the Queensway and Kingsway Tunnel toll charges have continued increasing ever since. During 2016, the total Tunnel tolls collected passed the one billion pounds mark. The tolls collected to date are now 23 times the original construction costs of the two tunnels. Money has been wasted on a vast scale and the Tunnels have been used as a cash cow to fund other activities.
The two Mersey Tunnels provide important economic strategic links and they should be taken over by Highways England and funded from existing road-use taxes and not from tolls.
Silver Jubilee Bridge
This bridge linking the north bank of the Mersey at Widnes with the south bank at Runcorn was opened in 1961 and carried the A533. The £3 million cost was mainly met by the Government with contributions from Cheshire and Lancashire County Councils. It was never tolled in its 56 year history. It has now been closed to traffic and when it reopens it will become a tolled bridge crossing, making it the only free bridge crossing in Britain ever to have a toll imposed upon it. We want the plan to toll the bridge to be immediately abandoned. The bridge maintenance and repairs should be financed in the same way as it has been for over half a century – from Government highways grants.
Mersey Gateway Bridge
This bridge opened to traffic from midnight on the 13th October 2017. It is a tolled bridge crossing. There are many issues with this scheme, but we will mention just two.
The Council and Government said that all such new bridges have to be tolled, but a larger bridge over the Forth was opened by the Queen in September 2017 and is not tolled. In fact most 'estuarial' crossings in Britain are not tolled, including all those in North Wales and the numerous Thames crossings in the Greater London Authority area, and of course the Silver Jubilee Bridge was not tolled when it opened in 1961 and has remained untolled – till now.
The other issue is the effect on congestion in the wider North West road network. The tolling of the Mersey Gateway Bridge means that a significant number of drivers and businesses will actively avoid using it and are diverting to areas with free bridge crossings several miles upriver, adding to and even causing congestion in the greater road network in those areas.
We want the Government to buy-out the private finance contract. This is likely to cost no more than the Government are already committed to spend to support the Gateway tolls, and the cost would be less than one week of one year of the taxes on drivers. The bridge should then be maintained by Highways England as part of the national road network.