I have given careful thought to Merseyside County Council's application for increases in tolls and for an extension of its capitalisation powers under Section 3 of the Mersey Tunnel Act 1972. I agree with the county council that immediate toll increases are necessary. I have, there fore, made the order to give effect to its proposals. The new charges which will come into effect on 1st June are:
|Motor cycles and 3-wheelers||15p||(10)|
|Cars and light vehicles not exceeding 3 tons unladen||25p||(20)|
|Coaches and goods vehicles over 3 tons unladen||60p||(50)|
But the financial situation of the tunnels undertaking will remain serious. Even with the increases the council will be borrowing large sums to meet interest charges on its loans and adding each year to the public sector borrowing requirement. Revenue from users will still fall considerably short of expenditure.Users of estuary crossings like the Mersey Tunnels receive exceptional benefits from these expensive facilities, and I, like my predecessors, think it right that those who benefit should meet the cost. I have, therefore, asked the council to examine again urgently the tunnels' finances and to bring forward as soon as possible proposals for such further toll increases as it will need to put its finances progressively on to a sounder base. These further proposals will be published so that, although there is no statutory obligation to hold a public inquiry, they may be made the subject of an inquiry which will cover the whole prospective financial situation of the Mersey Tunnels.In the meantime I have informed the council that I am not prepared to extend its borrowing powers beyond 31st March next year.