Contact: Democratic Services team
Declarations of Interest
There were no specific declarations of interest but Louise Outram, the Head of Legal, Democratic Services and Procurement advised Members in relation to the item concerning Mersey Tunnel Tolls that it was clear within the Constitution that the possession of a Tunnel “Fast Tag” would definitely not fall within the definition of a disclosable pecuniary interest as that related to employment/beneficial interest in land or any interest in a contract with the relevant authority.
Louise Outram further explained that there was also a need to assess personal interests and an arbitrary test value for this was considered to be one hundred pounds but this test was caveat “to a greater extent than it would affect the majority of the council tax payers, ratepayers or inhabitants of the ward or electoral area for which they have been elected.” Therefore it could be established that as a fast tag is freely available it does not confer any additional benefits to any of its recipients and that therefore, in her opinion, there was no need for Members to declare a personal interest in this matter although it was of courser for each Member to determine if they wished to do so. .
To consider the minutes of the last meeting held on 4 January 2018.
Resolved that the minutes of the last meeting held on 4 January 2018 be approved as a correct record subject to:-
(a) noting that in relation to the response of Councillor Friel to the public question raised by Mr John Brace as recorded in Minute 71 in reference to Merseyrail journey times, the words “maximum journey time of three to four minutes” are replaced with “average journey time
of only four minutes”; and
(b) noting the request of Councillor Abbey with reference to the issue of integrated rail and bus services raised by him and recorded in minute 68 for the newly appointed Director of Integrated Transport to monitor progress in this matter and report back accordingly to the Committee.
To consider a report of the Lead Officer Transport concerning the level of Mersey Tunnel Tolls 2018/19.
The Committee considered a report of the Lead Officer Transport concerning proposals for the level of Mersey Tunnel Tolls for 2018/19.
Gary Evans, the Head of Customer Delivery, outlined the key points of the report including the difference between authorised and actual tolls and he noted that there had been no rise in the actual toll since April 2014. He also said that in comparison with other modes of transport, the tunnels were the cheapest option to cross the river and that there was an ongoing increase in usage and in the use of Fast Tag. The off peak charge under the proposals being considered would reduce for Fast Tag to £1 and the off peak was defined as 7 p.m. to 7.a.m. each day and all day on Sunday. The existing concessions would continue.
Councillor Abbey welcomed the reduction in the off peak Fast Tag and the freezing of the peak Fast Tag but he expressed disappointment with the proposed increase in the cash toll which he did not thing was the best thing t do as for some people other modes of travel were not accessible and they had no option but to use the car.
Councillor Foulkes said that good management of the tunnels in the “teeth” of austerity had helped keep the toll frozen for four years but he believed there were clearly new dynamics in this report but it did contain good news and there needed to be a flexible approach to tolling. He said the tunnels were economically vital to the City Region and that there was a great responsibility in the absence of Government help to keep them maintained and safe and to make sure the traffic kept flowing. This responsibility was not taken lightly.
Councillor Foulkes then said that the Mayor had delivered on his promise insofar as off peak Fast Tag was concerned and that he advocated users of the tunnel to migrate to Fast Tag as it was easy to do. The only aspect of the proposals said Councillor Foulkes that he opposed was the 10p increase in the cash toll otherwise it would be a perfect report. He also noted that Councillor Rowlands was not in attendance at the meeting and he suggested that given the significance of this matter in Wirral that although he held Councillor Rowlands in high regard, he did believe that he should have personally attended the meeting. Councillor Jones responded that the absence of Councillor Rowlands was not relevant to the discussion.
There was a question from Councillor Crone noting that as a majority of Class 1 vehicle users now used Fast Tag, why he had observed there only being one Fast Tag toll booth open. Gary Evans replied that Fast Tag users could use any booth but that the number of specific Fast Tag booths open was managed dynamically day to day.
Councillor Crone then referred to the Mayoral pledge on a £1 toll but said that there was another pledge about improving ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To consider a report of the Treasurer concerning the proposed 2018/19 revenue budget and capital programme for Merseytravel.
(Please note that in the electronic version of the appendices, the revenue budget and capital programme are contained in separate tabs of the attached spreadsheet.)
The Committee considered a report of the Treasurer concerning the Budget Setting process and the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme of Merseytravel for 2018/19.
The Treasurer, John Fogarty, provided an overview of the Budget Setting report. He explained the context of a reduction in funding putting pressure on the transport levy and the proposed setting of an effectively static levy of £95m. This was part of a financial strategy to reduce the costs of operation while protecting front line services and assisting the financial position of constituent district councils. The Treasurer said the operational grant would again be £92m and he explained the pressure facing the Capital Programme and the actions proposed in respect of fees and charges on Mersey Ferries, Supported Bus and in respect of Bus Station Departures. He also indicated that the approach being taken was to continue to improve efficiency and deliver the best possible outcomes cost effectively with fewer but more prioritised resources.
Councillor Abbey believed that this was a thorough and comprehensive report as it was difficult to balance the various issues in constructing the budget. He noted that concessionary travel was under pressure and commented that there was a need to find ways to continue to deliver this as it was much cherished across the City Region. He was also mindful of the lack of Government funding for supported bus services and that across the country bus services were suffering as a result. He called for any further opportunities for funding or income and revenue generation to be actively searched for.
Thanks for the clarity and the conciseness of the report were expressed by Councillor Foulkes. He said it was a budget that would help district councils but that it was also another “austerity” budget as had been the case for a number of years. It was in his opinion ironic that a standstill budget was being marked as a success but he said everyone would need to work harder and achieve the savings needed. Councillor Foulkes gave credit to well organised groups such as the Mersey Tunnels Users Association but suggested that in times of austerity there were other groups of people, such as those using supported bus services, who were not able to organise themselves as proficiently but who could suffer from cuts to budgets.
Councillor Crone echoed previous comments in understanding the difficulties of constructing a budget with reduced resources but he was pleased that there was nonetheless an ambitious capital programme. He asked when the last rise was in supported bus fares and the Treasurer said this was the previous year when there was also a 10p rise but he indicated that they were still below fares on the commercial network and that the increased fares would help in keeping the supported network in place. Shane Fitzpatrick, the Senior Head of Service Operations added that the rise would also help in reducing the quality differential between the commercial and supported networks. In response to a further question from Councillor ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
TransPennine Express Presentation
To consider a presentation on TransPennine Express by Managing Director Leo Goodwin.
The Board considered a presentation by Leo Goodwin the Managing Director of Transpennine Express concerning an update on the progress of the franchise operator and its services.
Leo Goodwin commenced the presentation with a broad outline of how the Transpennine network provided 248 services a day, had more than 27 million customers each year and employed over a thousand people with over a hundred of these staff being in the Liverpool City Region. The organisation had a strong belief in the north of England and the creativity of northern people and it wanted to help to unlock the potential of the region while aiding the transformation of its economy and lessening the north/south divide. A key part of this aspiration was to provide much more efficient connectivity to provide links between areas which would boost productivity in business but also the visitor economy. The strategy was to re-imagine the offer made to customers and make it better than today. To this end £500m of investment was being made in trains and services to produce, along with Network Rail, a complete business transformation.
What was being done with the investment in trains and in stations was then explained by Mr Goodwin and he said that they are delivering on the 240 commitments made in their franchise bid. He set out the year on year increases in passengers and then explained what was to come with brand new and very modern trains which would be the best on the UK network currently being manufactured bringing further employment to the UK. The trains would be introduced onto the network over the next couple of years. Depot capacity would be enhanced including the facility at Edge Hill in Liverpool.
The new trains, which would be longer and have greater capacity, would assist the development of new timetables and new and faster services for example to Scotland and through the Liverpool to Manchester corridor with new station stops at Lea Green and Newton-le-Willows. This would all be accompanied by Network Rail investment in the ageing rail infrastructure in the north helping to achieve greater flexibility and improved journey times. There was also the possibility indicated of the takeover of the East Midlands trains franchise which would enable improvements to be made to the services from Liverpool to Nottingham and onwards.
At the conclusion of the presentation Councillor Abbey was the first to question Leo Goodwin by asking about the integration of rail and bus timetables and he cited the work in Cornwall in this respect and asked for the possibility of achieving that in this region. The response was agreement that the public transport network needed to work cohesively and together and that the Operator was making investment in integration such as a customer app which would enable the planning of end to end journeys. The next stage in this would be providing better ticketing options and work was already ongoing with Transport for the North and other partners to introduce smartcard technology onto the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Public Question Time
Members of the public will be given the opportunity to ask questions which
have been submitted in accordance with Meetings Standing Order No.
A period of 30 minutes will be allocated for this item and copies of valid
questions will be circulated at the meeting.
Members of the public who wish to submit questions are asked to contact
Democratic Services by either:
Telephone: 0151 330 1086
In writing: Democratic Services, Merseytravel, No.1 Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
A proforma will be supplied which, for this meeting must be returned by
5.00pm on (three working days before the meeting). In this respect, return details are set out in the proforma..
The Chair announced that no public questions had been received.
Petitions and Statements
Members of the public will be given the opportunity to submit a single
petition or statement in accordance with Meetings Standing Order No. 11.
Members of the public who wish to submit a single petition or statement
are asked to contact Democratic Services by either:
Telephone: 0151 330 1086
In writing: Democratic Services, Merseytravel, No.1 Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
All petitions and statements for this meeting should be submitted to
Merseytravel, using the contact details above, by 12noon on (day before the meeting)
The Chair announced that no petitions or statements had been received.