2011 TOLL INCREASE PROTEST
A/cs from 1934
Tunnels tolls went up on Sunday 3rd April (the increase took effect from midnight on the Saturday 2nd).
In the past we have suggested that instead of the profits going to Merseytravel, they should be used to pay for various concessions including no tolls on Sundays. That would help to unite families on Merseyside for 52 weeks of the year. But instead what we got from Merseytravel was a tolls increase implemented on Mother's Day.
We held a protest in the morning between 10.30 and 12.30 AM on the Oakdale Road bridge near the toll booths at the Tunnel entrance in Wallasey. Coverage before the protest included Radio Merseyside and BBC Online.
Most of the people who were driving through the Tunnels showed their support for the protest by waving or honking horns, but the number taking part on the bridge was most disappointing - there were only about 8 people for most of the protest though about another 6 were able to be there for part of the time, including Esther McVey, the MP for Wirral West for whose support we are grateful.
One possible reason for the low turnout at the protest was that it was Mother's Day.
In our opinion if it wasn't for the MTUA, then toll increases would be higher and more frequent. Most drivers do not realise that under the formula used by Merseytravel, the tolls could go up again in another 12 month's time by as much as another twenty pence. For a regular user of the Tunnels that would be another hundred pounds a year. Perhaps if they realised this, more drivers would be protesting now, before it's too late.
|During the protest a mammoth queue built up in the area around the Wallasey Tunnel, not because of the increase, but because Merseytravel had closed one of the two tubes down, leaving only one lane in each direction.
Some drivers having paid the toll to go to Liverpool were seen to be turning back, though it isn't clear whether Merseytavel then demanded a second toll from them! Amongst the vehicles affected were emergency ambulances trying to get to Liverpool. Here you can see the queue with one of the ambulances in it.
Merseytravel seem to have no regard for drivers, they may claim that all these daytime closures - including those on weekdays - are for "essential" maintenance, but there must be no other road - tolled or untolled - which is so frequently subject to lane closures and queues. The management of the Tunnels should be taken away from Merseytravel and put in the hands of an organisation that does not view drivers as nothing more than a cash cow.
On Radio Merseyside, just before the protest started, the boss of Merseytavel was on the radio saying that it was a "myth" that the Tunnels were supposed to be eventually free, and that Merseytravel had been to the Government "three times" asking for financial help. The claim that the Tunnels were never supposed to be free is not correct, as Merseytravel could esaily confirm if they bothered to read the early Mersey Tunnels Acts. It may be correct that at various times Merseytravel went to the Government for help, but it seems that was many years ago. And if by some miracle, Merseytravel were to ask for help now (when most of our taxes seem to have been used for bank bailouts, wars and handouts to whichever causes meet favour with the Government of the day), then the first thing the Government might do is to point out that the Tunnels make a profit, and why don't Merseytravel reduce the tolls, or remove them at cerain times such as weekends?
Though not many people turned up we got coverage for the protest from BBC tv and from the Daily Post & Echo. These are the reports after the protest:-
BBC - "Mersey tunnel toll protest turnout disappoints campaigners".
Click Liverpool - "Liverpool region drivers protest over tunnel toll price hikes".
Liverpool Daily Post - "Mersey tunnel tolls go up as protestors stage protest (VIDEO)".
Wirral Globe - "Tunnel toll protestors stage fee hike demonstration".
Wirral News - "Thirteen people turn up to protest tunnel tolls increase".
We also took some pictures of our own:-
A/cs from 1934