THERE appears to be some confusion about the tunnel tolls for some of the candidates answering readers' question in this week's Wirral News.
Asked "what are your views on tunnel tolls", Labour and the Liberal Democrats seem to be particularly confused - while pretty much every other candidate is opposed to them.
Let's start with the most senior politician up for election: Angela Eagle (Lab) in Wallasey. She, like others is glad the tolls were frozen this year, and goes on to warn voters against being taken in by easy, what might be characterised as perhaps potentially vote-grabbing solutions.
This is wise advice, given the fact that when asked many feel the tolls are too high and they have been described as a tax on living in Wirral when the main centre of employment is Liverpool. (Hurry up Wirral Waters?)
Possibly with this in mind, Ms Eagle explained that the cost of nationalising all tolled river crossings would be over Â£1billion and during the 18 years on Tory government in the 1980s and 1990s they never did it.
She said: "Don't believe those who tell you that national Government should take them over."
However, her Labour colleague Phil Davies in Wirral West had this to say: "I would like the tunnels to become part of the national road network and be funded by government from national taxation."
So far, so confused. Although, disagreement within parties is perfectly acceptable, this seems to be a fundamental difference rather than one of interpretation. Maybe new versus old Labour?
Not sure from her answer whether Wirral South Alison McGovern (Lab) thinks it is unfortunate tolls were introduced or whether it was unfortunate people were told they would someday be free, but she does want to see them kept low.
Her Labour colleague in Birkenhead, Frank Field, is to the point with his single snetence response to the question: "They should be phased out by treating the capital cost like all other major transport projects around the country."
However, Labour do not seem to be the only ones without a single policy on this. Lib Dem Stuart Kelly is "a regular tunnel user" who does "not resent paying the tunnel toll". He predicts "traffic chaos" if the tolls were removed and would prefer any spare cash earmarked for local transport to be used to extend the train line to Prenton, an issue he has campaigned for many years.
However, it's clear he and Jamie Saddler (Lib Dem, Wirral South) haven't discussed this in too much detail, as Mr Saddler had this to say about tolls: "We would prefer the tunnels to be taken into the National Highway system and the tolls to be scrapped," but admits scrapping the tolls is "simply not financially viable".
I liked Peter Reisdorf's (Lib Dem, Wirral West) answer - essentially that it doesn't really affect him because he uses public transport or a motorbike (tunnels are free for motorbikes), where as his Lib Dem colleague in Walllasey, Steve Pitt is actively looking forward to some day when tolls might eventually go, and hopes Merseytravel will keep using its discretion to keep tolls increases to a minimum in the meantime.
And the Conservatives and UKIP want to scrap the tolls, although quite who will pay for this is not clear, as even if the debt is wiped off somehow there remains the question of maintenance and security - which will still have to be paid for.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Tunnels policy/policies.
TrackBack URL for this entry: