MERSEYTRAVEL has approved freezing Mersey Tunnel tolls for a third successive year.

A recommendation to keep fees at £1.70 each way was given the go-ahead by councillors this afternoon.

They also approved reducing the cost by 20p for Fast Tag holders, bringing the toll for cars down to £1.20.

The decision will now be considered by members of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority when it meets on Friday.

Also agreed in the proposals were:

• All emergency services liveried vehicles to travel free through the tunnels

• Journeys on Christmas Day will be free "in recognition public transport services are not available."

Merseytravel chairman Cllr Liam Robinson said: “The proposed tolls will result in savings and targeting discounts through the Fast Tag scheme is the best way to help regular and local users.

“The savings for even infrequent users are still significant at the rates of discount and I would urge all tunnel-users to consider Fast Tag even if they are not using them every day.”

Wirral councillor and Merseytravel committee member Cllr Steve Foulkes said: “The tunnels are our responsibility to maintain. They are a huge piece of engineering. It’s an awesome task keeping traffic flowing through the region.

“It’s our first duty and we’ve done that extremely well.

“It’s in stark contrast to what we were given by chancellor George Osborne who made promises about the tunnels before the last election.

“I’d say to the chancellor that the tunnels of Merseyside are for life, not just for election time.”

John McGoldrick of the Mersey Tunnel Users Association told the Globe: “Many of those involved in this decision today have gone back on what they said last year.

“Merseytravel do not seem to grasp the facts. They have little sympathy for those who use the tunnels every day and don’t have a Fast Tag.

“It was all pretty useless - Merseytravel are congratulating themselves but what have they really done?

“Last year city mayor Joe Anderson said he thought it was fundamentally wrong that they should make a profit from the tolls.

“Yet this year they are set to make around £13m profit."

The decision to freeze the tolls and apply Fast Tag discounts will now need to be approved by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority when it meets tomorrow, Friday.