CAMPAIGNERS are urging councillors to vote against a proposed increase in Mersey Tunnel tolls when they meet this afternoon.

Merseyside's Transport Authority budget meeting is expected to agree to a 10p hike, taking the fee to £1.70.

Dave Loudon, of Mersey Tunnels Users Association, said: "We have contacted Merseytravel councillors asking them to vote against a toll increase.

“But it looks as if today's meeting will be another piece of theatre as the authority's budget has been prepared on the assumption that the toll will be increased.

“Some say the increase is only 10p, but over a year this will be more like 50 pounds for car drivers - and for firms with goods vehicles regularly using the tunnels it could amount to several hundred pounds a vehicle.”

He added: "We believe any toll is unfair on drivers who already pay a fortune in fuel duty and other road taxes.

"Unfortunately, the situation soon will be even worse, as a new toll bridge is to built across the Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn, and the existing free-to-use crossing also will become a toll route.

"There will be a toll barrier all the way from Liverpool till you reach Warrington.

“What other area of Britain would put up with such a situation?"

A Merseytravel spokesman said: “In taking a decision members will be considering a number of factors.

“Primarily it is about ensuring there is enough to operate, maintain and invest in the tunnels, including there being a satisfactory buffer should unplanned emergency work be necessary.

“The role any surplus funds have in supporting wider transport infrastructure and the wider economic climate will all be taken into account.”