THE GOVERNMENT has ruled once again that the new Mersey Tunnel toll rises are to stay - saying reductions for people living near to the Dartford Crossing near London are different.

In response to a parliamentary question, Transport Minister Rosie Winterton confirmed to Wirral South MP Ben Chapman that local residents using the Dartford Crossing will benefit from discounted tolls, yet people using the Mersey tunnels are entitled to no such discount.

In the south east, there will be substantial reductions for those choosing to pay their Dartford tolls on a "DART-Tag" account, and night time charges will be removed for all vehicles.

As a result, Mr Chapman asked the Minister how she intends to address the "manifest unfairness" where local residents at Dartford are relieved of expense in relation to their river crossing while those of Merseyside are not.

Mrs Winterton said the Dartford decision should not be regarded as a precedent, and that the Mersey Tunnels are not a matter for central government because toll increases were in accordance with the Mersey Tunnels Act, whereas Toll charges at Dartford were not.

Mr Chapman commented: "This is not how the people of Merseyside will see it. How can it not be a precedent? What is good for the south east should be good for the north west."