MOTORISTS will see a 10p increase in Mersey Tunnel toll.

It means the cost of driving through the tunnel will rise to £1.60 from April this year.

The hike was approved when the Merseytravel board met on Thursday afternoon.

John McGoldrick, secretary of Mersey Tunnels Users Association, said: "Users of the tunnels will be disappointed at this decision, but we are not surprised as before the meeting it looked as if they had already decided to increase the tolls.

"This increase on already high tolls is not only a blow to those who use the tunnels it will be a blow for most of the people and businesses in the region.

"We told the councillors before the meeting that tolls are a physical, financial and psychological barrier that divides families as well as the economy.

"It seems that the pleas from us and others fell on deaf ears because most politicians only see roads users as a cash cow to generate money for their various spending plans."

Councillor Liam Robinson, chairman of Merseytravel, said: "We understand that motorists will not welcome any rise, but members of the authority decided on this step after extremely careful consideration.

"The decision to make no change to Fast Tag charges means that many motorists will feel no adverse impact at all, and it should be welcomed by all tunnel users.

"We were very conscious of the economic background, and acknowledge that the region is facing a challenging time, but under the Mersey Tunnels Act it is presumed that the actual tolls charged must rise in line with inflation.

"If that were the case this time, tolls would have had to rise to £1.80, but members used their powers to restrict the increase to only 10p."

Merseytravel’s Wirral board members – Cllrs Steve Foulkes, Ron Abbey, John Salter and Les Rowlands - all voted against the increase.

The new tolls will be £1.60 for cars; £3.20 class two; £4.80 class three and £6.40 for class four. Fast Tag discounts have been frozen.