THE cost of travelling through the Mersey Tunnels is going up by 20p after proposals were approved today.

Liverpool City Region's Combined Authority met to consider the increase on all tolls through the Birkenhead and Wallasey tunnels this afternoon.

The increase in tolls – which have been reduced or frozen for most users since 2017 - comes as the authority feels the financial impact of supporting local communities through the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic and increasing maintenance costs..

The increase will come into effect from April 1.

It means a single trip through the tunnels in a regular car will rise in price from £1.80 to £2.

That same journey with the Liverpool City Region resident discount and a Fast Tag will rise from £1 to £1.20.

That same journey with non-Liverpool City Region resident discount and a Fast Tag remains at £1.80.

The Mersey Tunnels are not part of the national road network and receive no government funding to support their operation and upkeep.

A spokesperson for the authority said the change in toll fee will also help cover the shortfall in revenues faced due to a reduction in traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels.

It will also enable the Combined Authority to continue to invest in supporting key public transport services for the benefit of the Liverpool City Region’s 1.6m residents.

The Liverpool City Region has set an ambitious target to achieve net zero by 2040 at the latest – a decade ahead of national targets - to tackle poor air quality locally and the global climate emergency.

Prior to today's meeting Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: "COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the public sector over the past two years and the Combined Authority is not immune to that.

"The costs of keeping our region running, supporting the local economy through the worst of the pandemic and investing to kickstart our recovery have been significant and will continue to be felt for some time.

"The Government's failure to deliver its promise of 'whatever it takes' in funding support has tied our hands financially.

"It means that difficult decisions need to be taken to keep vital public services running while also investing for the future.

"Over the last year and a half, we have provided more than £44m of support to over 4,000 businesses, keeping many afloat and safeguarding many, many thousands of local jobs.

"We distributed millions to small community groups who helped support their neighbours through the height of lockdown.

"We have funded transformative projects in every single part of our region – and launched a £150m COVID Recovery Fund to give the local economy a springboard to bounce back.

"The Mersey Tunnels are a critical part of our region's infrastructure and require significant, year-round maintenance yet we receive no central government help to keep them running safely and efficiently.

"Given the financial pressures the pandemic has forced on us – and the moral duty we have to tackle the climate emergency – we have taken the decision this year to raise Mersey Tunnel tolls to help us balance the books and continue develop a London-style transport system that offers people a reliable, affordable alternative to the car."

John McGoldrick from campaign group Scrap Mersey Tolls said "It was claimed at the meeting that more had to be spent on the Tunnels because they were so old and that costs were increasing. In fact the budget showed that they were only increasing expenditure on the Tunnels by £70,000 but that the tolls increase would add £4,500,000 to their profits.

"Instead of profiting from drivers and businesses, the authorities should be scrapping the tolls altogether."