Sign a Petition to Stop Mersey Tunnel Fast Tag Reforms
|Published: 6th February 2019 16:19|
As reported on AboutMyArea Neston in January, proposals put forward by Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram will see Neston commuters and leisure-seekers paying more to get to the city using Fast Tag.
The full original article is below. Since then, the budget meeting of the council has agreed to proceed with the reforms that will see Neston residents significantly disadvantaged.
Justin Madders MP has created a petition to object to the changes.
Currently, if Neston residents have a Fast Tag, they can go through either of the Mersey Tunnels for £1.20 each way, a reduction of 60p per journey on the usual cash charge. However, new proposals advocate a reduction to £1 for everyone who lives within the Liverpool City Region, but an increase to £1.80 each way for everyone else.
The 50% increase would be particularly painful for daily commuters, who have little choice but to drive to Liverpool for work, given the poor public transport connections to and from Neston, which have been widely discussed and even raised in Parliament by Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston.
Under the proposals, people living in the next town on the Wirral, Heswall, would pay the lower charge, with those living just feet away having to fork out nearly double the toll.
Mayor Rotheram first proposed the idea in his manifesto pledge and has said: "I'm pleased to submit a proposal for a new £1 Fast Tag toll, delivering on the commitment I made during my election. If approved, this will be the lowest tunnel toll in over 25 years, with the rate available to the people of the Liverpool City Region 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.
"Nobody likes to have to pay to use the tunnels, but they are a critical element of the city region's infrastructure and we do not receive any central government funding to effectively operate, maintain and upgrade them.
"During the 2015 general election the then Chancellor promised that we would receive national funding for the tunnels but this has not been forthcoming. Until this happens I will continue to work to keep the tolls as low as possible, especially for city region residents."
If approved by the Liverpool Combined Authority, the changes will come into effect from April.
AboutMyArea has contacted Justin Madders MP and the four local Cheshire West and Chester Councillors. They have pledged to lobby their counterparts in Liverpool for a fairer outcome for Neston.
Justin Madders has written to Steve Rotherham to ask him to reconsider, stating: "Liverpool is the nearest large city at only 13 miles away from my constituency, understandably, many constituents work in Liverpool or visit regularly for the fantastic cultural and leisure opportunities the city has to offer.
"I do appreciate that as Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, your policies are for the benefit of those residents who live in the region and contribute towards the cost of the department. However, given that my constituents are being detrimentally affected due to tolling on every access to Liverpool, and they play an important role in the Mersey Economy, I would ask you to reconsider."
Cllr Martin Barker (Parkgate) said: "Absolutely shocking if this is the case, given the current tag charge is £1.20."
Cllr Nigel Jones (Little Neston & Burton) added: "The transport public links to and out of Neston are basic to say the least, meaning that those who travel into Liverpool have to use their cars to get anywhere in a timely fashion...The increase is effectively a commuter tax indiscriminately levied on those who have no alternative but to drive."
Cllr Louise Gittins (Little Neston & Burton), deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "I have spoken to Liam Robinson who chairs Merseytravel and written to Steve Rotheram. I am meeting up with Liam in a few weeks with Brian Clarke (cabinet member for Economy which covers transport), to try and resolve the problem. The council is also doing a response.
"Both Justin and I have told Steve that it is unacceptable to inflict the increase on our residents and asked that fares are kept at the same level as they currently are. Merseytravel are currently getting figures on how many Cheshire West residents this will affect."