Select Committee on Mersey Tunnels Bills Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400-419)



400. LORD BRADSHAW:I am sorry, Mr Chairman, that is because they have to work in accordance with the Noise Insulation Regulations 1975.

401. CHAIRMAN: If you turn over the page, I think you will find, "…in accordance with the Noise Insulation Regulations 1975 (SI 1975/1763)".

402. MR McGOLDRICK: Sorry, my Lord.

403.BARONESS McINTOSH OF HUDNALL: Can I just for clarification of Mr Wilkinson about the quantum of funds which are being proposed to apply to noise insulation. I think, if I recall, that you said, Mr Wilkinson, it was likely to be of the order of £300,000 and I take it that that is a one-off cost, is it?

(Mr Wilkinson) It is indeed, yes.

404. BARONESS McINTOSH OF HUDNALL: Within the provisions for repairs and maintenance and other operating costs, is there any ongoing provision for noise insulation work over time?

(Mr Wilkinson) No. I have included a figure of £0.3 million, £300,000, in the assumed expenditure on refurbishment costs in the financial year 2005/06 for dealing with this problem, but nothing beyond that for ongoing maintenance because I believed that it was outside of the Noise Insulation Regulations.

405. BARONESS McINTOSH OF HUDNALL: So it would be right for me to assume, would it, that £300,000 is, give or take, the total extent of expenditure anticipated on noise insulation works?

(Mr Wilkinson) I would ask the Committee to accept that that estimate was provided with consultancy advice. It roughly works out at about £1,500 for each of the 200 properties which seem to be affected.

406. CHAIRMAN: Mr McGoldrick, I hope you do not regard this as an unfair question. Could I ask where your line of questioning on the question of noise is leading? I think several members of the Committee have a question mark over it. Is it your contention that the figure of £300,000 is unnecessarily high?I am not trying to put words into your mouth, I am trying to get a feeling for what it is you are thinking.

407. MR McGOLDRICK: In relation to the income or spending on the tunnels the £300,000 is insignificant. I am not quite sure how Merseytravel have arrived at that figure, but there does not appear to have been any detailed survey done. As the tunnel users we are not particularly objecting to spending £300,000 or whatever it may be on noise insulation, we are just a bit concerned about the vagueness of it.

408. CHAIRMAN: With great respect, might it not assist all of us if you just made a most important point of saying you do not object to this figure? Mersey Travel have said that is the figure, it is a one-off. Might we be able to move on?

409. MR McGOLDRICK: Yes, my Lord Chairman. Can you tell us where the costs of the Bill are being met from? Are they being met from tunnel tolls?

(Mr Wilkinson) The cost of the Bill has been charged to the accounts of the Mersey Tunnels over the period that the Bill has been progressing.

410. Is that covered by the existing powers of what tolls may be spent on?

(Mr Wilkinson) In the view of our legal advisers I think the answer is yes.

411. Can you tell us which particular clause that would be?

(Mr Wilkinson) I regret that I am not quite sure that I understand the question. I would assume, with your permission, that it refers to the County of Merseyside Act 1980 and the section in that Act that deals with the distribution of tunnel income. I would assume that it would be covered by the general references that are contained therein.

412. MR McGOLDRICK: The references are fairly specific. I noticed Mr George and Mr Owen were looking at what I assumed was the County of Merseyside Act 1980. Could they perhaps tell us the answer?

413. MR GEORGE: It has been regarded as an operating cost in section 99(1) of the Act. There is a power in the Passenger Transport Authority to promote a Bill and if it is a Bill which is promoted in connection with a particular aspect of its functions, such as the tunnel, then it is part of the general operating costs of the tunnel. That is how it has been put. It is section 99(1)(c) in A26, page 104.

414. CHAIRMAN: Mr McGoldrick, are you leading towards asking the question of what sum are we talking about?

415. MR McGOLDRICK: I would be interested in knowing what the sum was for this particular Bill and the previous Bill introduced in 1999 and withdrawn in 2000.

(Mr Wilkinson) My Lord Chairman, I simply do not have that piece of information to hand at this point in time.

416. Merseytravel basically wants to use the increases in tolls to contribute towards its spending on public transport. Can you give us some idea how much Merseytravel receives at the moment each year in grant income or from the district councils?

(Mr Wilkinson) I think in Exhibit B3 there is an indication of the overall turnover of Merseytravel and a reference to the manner in which that is financed. If I could take you to page 4 in exhibit B which indicates in paragraph 3.1 that the turnover of Merseytravel is currently in excess of £275 million a year which is met in almost equal proportions by charges made by service users, by Government grants and by levies on Merseyside's five district councils. One-third of £275 million a year is roughly £90 million. The Government grant is almost entirely in relation to the provision of our local railway but it does include some small provision under rural bus grants and urban bus grants, but the rest of the inferred figures in that exhibit speak for themselves.

417. MR McGOLDRICK: Thank you, Mr Wilkinson, for answering the questions.

418. CHAIRMAN: Mr George, do you want to re-examine?

Re-examined by MR GEORGE

419. MR GEORGE: First of all, so far as the classes of traffic, Mr Wilkinson, could you go to the A bundle and A15, page 23. We have been looking at a re-categorisation of tolls at B26 but there were some questions as to what were the various classifications. That was set out on 28 November 1999. Do those classifications remain the same today?

(Mr Wilkinson) They do, yes.

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