Select Committee on Mersey Tunnels Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Question 280-286)

Mrs Charles George and Miss Joanna Clayton

Thursday 30 January 2003

280. MR FIELD: Equally there is a concern, and this was expressed in the Second Reading debate, that if I was a resident of Neston or Ellesmere Port living just inside Cheshire, living fairly near to the tunnel and requiring the tunnel if I was working in Liverpool or beyond, I would not therefore have any democratic safeguard in that way. Presumably the Petitioner is representing small businesses in the entire Wirral area and this sort of artificial boundary takes Wirral from the rest of Cheshire and many people who live in the Wirral area regard themselves as living in Cheshire rather than Merseyside so there are people in the County of Cheshire who therefore would not have that democratic safeguard.

281. MR GEORGE: The hon. Member, of course, is entirely right. So far as that small percentage who live south of Wirral District and into Cheshire, they are not democratically involved. It should not be assumed, however, that they will not benefit from public transport improvements within the Merseyside region because if they are contemplating moving from car to train they will benefit very much from the improved rail services which will be in part funded from the surplus because they will be able to get from their homes in Cheshire into the Merseyside area where they want to work through greatly improved services. The infrastructure will be improved and, furthermore, Merseytravel does spend money in that part of Cheshire in connection with the railway line beyond its own boundaries. It has a power to spend money there and it intends to spend it. I take entirely the hon. Member's point about the democratic element but that only applies to those small number of people who actually have their origin outside Merseyside.

282. CHAIRMAN: Mr George, are you just concluding a point?

283. MR GEORGE: Literally I was simply to tell the Committee who the three witnesses will be and then I shall have overrun by two minutes. Would you like me to leave that until Tuesday?

284. CHAIRMAN: No, please do it now.

285. MR GEORGE: I am going to call three witnesses. I will call first Mr John Wilkinson. He is the Director of Resources and will be the person who will be able to deal with some of the matters which the Chairman in particular has raised this morning about the exhibit showing the accounting matters and the question of the debt. Secondly I shall call Mr Philip Bates. He is a consultant with the distinguished firm of Steer Davies Gleave and he will deal with the sort of people who use the tunnel and the RPI mechanism and the effects on the Wirral, and in particular on small businesses, of what is proposed. Finally I will call Mr Neil Scales. He is the Chief Executive of the PTA, I think I said wrongly this morning the PTE. He is Director General of the Passenger Transport Executive and he will explain not only the workings of Merseytravel but also the sort of transport projects upon which surplus tolls will be spent if the Bill proceeds. The documents which have got a B reference number are those to which Mr Wilkinson will be referring on Tuesday. Those with a C reference number are those to which Mr Bates will be referring and the D ones are the ones to which Mr Scales will be referring.

286. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Mr Fleming will be given the opportunity to cross-examine each of those witnesses in turn. We must now adjourn and reconvene at 10 am on Tuesday next.

Adjourned until Tuesday next at 10 am

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