MOTORISTS could be hit with an increase in Mersey tunnel tolls in April.

Merseyside's Integrated Transport Authority will decide on whether to raise the cost during its budget meeting on February 7.

It follows publication of a Merseytravel report which says the authority would miss out on generating an additional £2.6m unless it agrees a rise.

The current cost is £1.50 per car but this could rise by 10p, an increase of 7%.

The last time tolls went up was in April of 2011 and they were frozen until the end of 2012 John McGoldrick, secretary of protest group Mersey Tunnel Users' Association, said any increase would be unwarranted.

He said: "There is no justification for increasing tunnel tolls and as times goes on it seems very likely that they could rise. Increases are bad news for motorists and businesses.

"Hopefully, when the board meets next month, it will recommend the toll stays at its current level.

"As the tolls currently stand, the Mersey crossing is the joint third most expensive, the only ones higher are the Severn and the Dartford crossing.

"At Dartford there is a discount for locals so that they pay 20p a crossing.

"When considering an increase, Merseytravel has to take into account the economic and social circumstances of Merseyside.

"Those circumstances are never good and Liverpool and Wirral have pockets with some of the greatest deprivation in England.

"Given the state of the whole country, Merseytravel would have to be mad to think that now is a reasonable time for them to extract even more money from the drivers and businesses that use the tunnels.”

A Merseytravel spokesman said: "The report is for information only and does not give members the facility to define the actual toll levels.

"Officers will be requested to produce a report for the authority budget setting meeting recommending the actual level of tolls.

"A final decision on any possible change in tunnel tolls will then carefully be considered by a meeting of the full authority."