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Letter: Plans for free tunnel use.

Byline: Cllr Mark Dowd OBE

IN REPLY to J McGoldrick "A Heavy Toll" (Letters, August 19), do members of the Mersey Tunnels Association (MTUA) seriously believe David Cameron would give a binding commitment that the Tories, if elected, would promise free tunnel use?

The narrow bridge which Mr Cameron wishes to have toll free is the Swinford Toll Bridge, built in 1767 for pedestrians, horses, carts and carriages.

Because of an ancient Act of Parliament, every car which uses the privately owned bridge has to pay a 5p toll.

In the 21st century, the bridge creates a huge bottleneck and traffic. Is it any wonder why Mr Cameron wants the 5p toll removed?

Even the MTUA would concede the comparison between a narrow bridge built in 1767 charging cars a 5p toll and the 1934 Mersey Tunnel, once the largest crossriver tunnel in the world, does not compare.

The fact of the matter is, whether the MTUA likes it or not, I, as the Chairman of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority (MPTA) - the owners of the tunnels - must deal with the position as it is at present, namely that people using the tunnels pay a toll to commute under the River Mersey.

There is no cost to the council tax payers of Sefton, Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens and Wirral at the present period in time.

If whichever political party in power refused to finance the cost of wages, debt, and infrastructure maintenance (the Queensway Tunnel is now 74 years old) - a total sum of pounds 38m - and the tunnel users commuted without paying any toll, then it would certainly be the responsibility of the five district councils to find the extra finance.

I believe it would be safe to assume that council tax payers of Wirral, Sefton, Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens would not be performing cartwheels when their council tax demand drops on the hall mat containing payments in order to make Mersey Tunnel Tolls free for motor vehicle users.

Cllr Mark Dowd OBE, Chair, Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 25, 2008
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