Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-439)
MR CHARLES GEORGE QC and MISS JOANNA CLAYTON.
BIRCHAM DYSON BELL and MR JOHN McGOLDRICK examined
420. Those are in the Bill so the Committee have
got the list there. The only other matter I wanted to ask you
about was clause 91(1)(e) of the Bill. Mr McGoldrick entirely
correctly referred to what I said yesterday, which is that that
would enable you to repay the local authorities. What my instructing
agent has pointed out to me is that so far as making the noise
insulation patents, we have looked at where they have the power
to make them, but in order to pay them out of the toll monies,
that also would fall within little (e) as another purpose, otherwise
in that list of matters on which you can spend the toll money
there is no expressed reference to the acoustic works. Is that
also your understanding?
(Mr Wilkinson) Yes, it is. I think
Mr George referred to the wrong section, I think it is 91(3)(e),
but that is indeed my understanding and I omitted to mention that
earlier. I apologise.
421. CHAIRMAN: Mr George, you kindly said
yesterday that you would be happy for an amendment to go down
to the Bill to define "other purposes" and at that stage
- you have just corrected yourself - you said it referred only
to the £28 million MDC loan. You have now, I am sure correctly,
added to that for acoustic works. Do the Promoters still stand
by a statement to say that they would be prepared to see an amendment
if "other purposes" was so defined as restricted to
the loan and acoustic works?
422. MR GEORGE: My understanding of the
position is that we do not believe that any amendment is necessary.
If the Committee were to require an amendment, I am satisfied
that an amendment could be drafted which refined down the meaning
of the phrase. Essentially what we say is that, in any event,
we cannot spend money on anything which is outside our general
powers and therefore for that reason it is not necessary, it could
only be spent on matters which it is lawful for Merseytravel to
do. If the Committee were to indicate that they required us as
a condition of the Bill proceeding to bring forward an amendment
then certainly as a matter of technical drafting it could be done.
423. CHAIRMAN:Thank you. That is very helpful.
Does that finish the examination and cross-examination of Mr
424. MR GEORGE: Yes, my Lord Chairman, subject
to any questions the Committee may have.
425. CHAIRMAN: Do the Committee have any
questions?No. Thank you.
The Witness withdrew
MR PHILIP BATES, Sworn
Examined by MR GEORGE
426. MR GEORGE: My second witness and my
last witness is Mr Bates and he is going to be a great deal quicker
than the first witness at any rate in chief. If I could introduce
you to the Committee and we can turn in the exhibits bundle to
C1. Are you Mr Phil Bates?
(Mr Bates) I am.
427. You say at C1 that you are an Associate of
the transport consultancy Steer Davies Gleave and you tell us
about your past history, your experience as an adviser in relation
to tolls and light rail schemes and on the right-hand column you
tell us a little bit about Steer Davies Gleave who are one of
the world's independent transport consultancies and you set out
some of the work in which they are involved and we need not take
any further time on that. If we then turn the page to C2, I think
the evidence which you are going to give is on three matters which
are underlined in C2. First of all, if we could look briefly
at the nature of the traffic which is crossing the Mersey; secondly,
at the indexing tolls to the Retail Price Index, and thirdly,
and very briefly, a glance at the Merseyside economy and particularly
looking at the Wirral. Is that right?
(Mr Bates) That is correct.
428. If as a starter we turn the page to C3, could
you just briefly put the tunnels in the context of movement by
road in Merseyside?
(Mr Bates) Obviously the toll has
been in existence now for quite a long time and it has become
engrained within the way people behave and travel. Motorists
on the Wirral, if they wish to go to other destinations within
the UK, have very good motorway connections. Just under 73 per
cent of the population is under two miles from a motorway junction
at a crow flying distance, with everybody being less than five
miles from a motorway junction.
429. Just stop there for a moment. We are talking
about people who live in the Wirral and in the bottom right-hand
corner the Committee has got a box and your figure of 73 per cent
is obtained if one totals the figures in the right-hand column
of the box, the 1.9, the 9.5 and the 34 and the 27.4. Those come
together to 72.8 per cent, is that right?
430. So far as these lines which are drawn, they
are from junctions on the motorway and we can count out from the
centre: the first is 0.5 kilometres, then we are out to 1 kilometre,
then to 2, then to 3 and this 73 per cent applied to the people
who were living within 3 kilometres of one of the junctions of
the M53. Is that right?
(Mr Bates) That is correct.
431. So far as the eight kilometres which you mentioned,
that only applies in the top left of the plan where we can see
the most western part of the Wirral. That is the area which is
between seven and eight kilometres from the nearest junction,
is it not?
(Mr Bates) That is correct.
432. Your overall conclusion then?
(Mr Bates) Obviously the population
of the Wirral is very well connected to that motorway, that is
the M53. The M53 leads to the M56 and then the M56 leads to the
M6, so people in the Wirral have very good connections to the
rest of the UK.
433. How does that relate to tunnel usage?
(Mr Bates) Obviously as a consequence
the tunnel is effectively used by local traffic accessing the
Merseyside region. There is access to the rest of the network
without incurring the toll, and by a very high standard road network.
434. If I live in the Wirral or out to the west,
and I want to get to Liverpool, what are the options?
(Mr Bates) If
I want to travel from the Wirral to Liverpool I have four basic
options. I can travel by road through the two tunnels; I can
travel by rail, which again is a tunnel under the river; I can
travel by bus - buses use the tunnel; and I can also use the Mersey
435. If we look at your Exhibit C.4, Lady Saltoun
was yesterday asking about the ferries, and I promised her I was
going to come back to the ferries. The black line shows the passengers
still using the ferries. Is that right?
(Mr Bates) That
is correct, yes.
436. We see on the lefthand side the various percentages
for all trips. On the righthand side there is the figure for
trips to Liverpool city centre. What observation do you have
about the differences between your two columns?
(Mr Bates) Obviously
the difference to note is the blue box, which is the travel by
road, reduces dramatically as a percentage of total trips; and
the red box which represents travel by rail increases; showing
clearly that the mode of choice of people travelling to Liverpool
city centre changes towards public transport, such that public
transport is actually the dominant mode from the Wirral into the
centre of Liverpool. This is reflected in the fact that the trains
from the Wirral to Liverpool are very good. There are about 16
trains an hour in the a.m. peak; and that it takes about four
minutes to travel from one side of the Mersey to the other on
437. If we then turn on to your next, which is C.5,
you break down the car trips to Liverpool city centre. Could
you give the Committee your observations?
(Mr Bates) What
this is trying to do, this is looking at the number of trips per
car-owning household to travel to the centre of Liverpool. What
we would anticipate is that the closer a location is to the centre
of Liverpool the more trips to the centre. Obviously as you move
geographically further from the centre of Liverpool you will be
getting fewer trips as other destinations attract. What is particularly
noticeable about this is that there is quite a significant difference
between Knowsley and the Wirral. If you look at a map of the
region you will see that Knowsley lies to one side of Liverpool,
and the Wirral lies to the other, and are broadly equidistant
from Liverpool to the centre. What this enables us to do is to
assess the level of what calls the "suppression" of
trips into the city centre as a consequence of the toll facility.
Effectively what this is showing is that the existence of the
toll over the last 70 years effectively alters the way people
behave, such that we get less travel into Liverpool than we might
expect had the toll not be there.
438. MR GEORGE: You would expect Wirral
to be behaving the same as Knowsley but for the tunnel?
439. BARONESS McINTOSH OF HUDNALL: One might
question whether the thing that suppressed the traffic was the
presence of the river, rather than the existence of the toll?
(Mr Bates) In
terms of drive times, for example, there would be no difference
to drive across. Whether the river itself creates a mental barrier
is always a difficult one to interpret, but I think it reflects
an inherent barrier to travel.