Friday, September 22, 2006

"Stan the man" slams plan!

Tyne Tunnell Toll to rise.

Imagine paying for something now, something you might NEVER see, something you might NEVER use, something that has not yet been built.

You wouldn't be keen on the idea would you? You would like to see what you are buying, yes? You would like to know what you are paying your money towards, yes?

Well, this is exactly what the Tyne Wear Passenger Transport Authority expects us to do as they raise the finance for the second Tyne Tunnel. The second tunnel is little more than a plan drawing at present, the PTA are yet to decide on who gets the construction contracts, and who will franchise all three tunnels on completion of the project However, because considerable costs have already been incurred, such as the acquisition of large tracts of land and properties on the Jarrow side of the river, and the expenses of a legal challenge launched by Friends of the Earth, they wish to raise the current fee to 1.10 for cars and 1.50 for HGVs, yet this is just the start, it is envisaged that the current fees will see regular rises to as much as 2.10 by the time the new tunnel opens (hopefully) in 2011. By then some motorists may have retired from work, been made redundant from their jobs, or even died.
So, we have the odd situation where a public body is busy raising finance for a "private" project!

Veteran South Shields Tory campaigner Stan Smith calls the proposed rises "daylight robbery" and he believes the whole scheme ought to have been paid for from the public purse, if it was to have been built at all. Stan would rather have seen a Tyne Wear Metro link under the river from Tynemouth to South Shields, perhaps as a means of reducing environmental pollution and encouraging greater use of public transport this may have been more preferable, however, it's all water under the bridge now.

I'm not sure that I would agree to it being a publicly financed project, the current vehicular tunnel is still amassing huge debts that will be paid by future generations and I think it would have been almost criminal to fit another millstone around the necks of the taxpayers by asking them to fork out for a second venture. Unfortunately, like the Humber Bridge, the motorist will be seen as a paying "customer", and like the Humber Bridge there will be no competition, no real alternative, unless we wish to clog the Tyne Bridge even further. So it looks as though those who use a vehicle to travel to work on either side of the Tyne crossing will need to find an extra 100 pounds a month just to get to work, and for many of these shift workers the Metro is not a viable alternative. Another tax on the motorist? Well, perhaps it will be.

However, it's nice to see that Stan is up to his old tricks, obviously recovering from the ill health he suffered recently. I wonder if he would fancy a good old socialist subsidy to keep the fees down?


Shields Gazette
North East Against Tolls

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