Liverpool

Mersey tunnel toll protest turnout disappoints campaigners

Anti-toll placard
Image caption Seven people turned up to the demonstration

A demonstration against the rise in toll prices for the Mersey Tunnels attracted a "disappointing" 13 people, campaigners have said.

Car tolls increased from £1.40 to £1.50 at midnight, while heavy goods vehicles face a rise of 90p to £6.50.

The Mersey Tunnels Users Association (MTUA) called on people to join their protest near the Wallasey Tunnel booths, but just 13 people turned out.

Merseytravel has said the company had done its best to keep prices down.

MTUA members were joined by Wirral West MP Esther McVey for their protest at 1030 BST. Seven protesters stayed to the end.

In a statement, the group said members were "hoping that a lot of people would attend the protest, but were disappointed with the turnout".

'Cash cow'

Dave Loudon, chairman of the MTUA, said: "It is too late to stop this increase, but if people meekly accept it, then in 12 months' time Merseytravel will be along demanding even more money.

"Drivers on Merseyside are being treated as a cash cow. The tunnels are already one of the most expensive tolls in Britain, and there is no other city where you are forced to pay any toll at all to get from one side to another.

"Tunnels tolls not only divide friends and families, they are bad for the economy, which is one reason that we still have high unemployment."

Chief Executive Neil Scales told the BBC that Merseytravel faced increasing costs to run the tunnels and that previous appeals to have the tolls abolished were unsuccessful.

"This organisation, or its predecessor, have tried three times and been told by government where to go basically," he said.

"The surplus funds are really going back into public transport or into the tunnels. This year we'll have spent nearly £10m on the tunnels.

"If you put the thing into context, in 1991 the toll was £1. Twenty years later it's £1.50... we've done our best."

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