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Tyne Tunnel hit by UKIP protest over tolls

call for change ... Ukip members, from left, Steve Harrison, Richard Elvin, Gordon Parkin, Luke Hardy and Tim Marron at the Tyne Tunnel in Jarrow yesterday.

call for change ... Ukip members, from left, Steve Harrison, Richard Elvin, Gordon Parkin, Luke Hardy and Tim Marron at the Tyne Tunnel in Jarrow yesterday.

Uk Independence Party members campaigning against tolls staged a protest at the Tyne Tunnel in Jarrow yesterday.

Party officials raised banners calling for an end to tolls at the bridge over the A185 south of the tunnel.

The horns sounded by passing motorists indicated widespread support for the call for the tunnel’s £1.60 charge for cars to be scrapped.

Richard Elvin, UKIP’s chairman for the North East, said: “We had a very positive response with motorists tooting their horns, waving and giving us the thumbs-up.

“This was a way of bringing the public’s attention to one of UKIP’s policies. It is very strange that we live in the UK, yet up in Scotland, they don’t have tolls on roads, bridges and tunnels.”

Mr Elvin, runner-up at last year’s South Shields Parliamentary by-election, added: “Drivers pay around £50bn every year to use the roads, yet only some £6bn is returned to the road network, with less than £1bn for repair and maintenance. This leaves more than £40bn of taxes paid by road users to build and maintain our roads.

“There is plenty of money from motoring taxes to pay for the road infrastructure we need without adding to the cost of motoring with tolls.

“Toll roads are a first step towards privatising the roads. This is not what the public want to see, and any government responsible for this will pay the price at the ballot box.

“The roads in the UK are falling apart and desperately need significant investment to bring them back into a decent state of repair while we give away over £10bn in foreign aid.”

The protest came as Mr Elvin revealed that Ukip is planning to put forward candidates in all 121 North-East seats up for grabs at May’s local elections.

A spokesman for tunnel operator TT2 said: “This small protest appeared to be purely political in its nature. The toll represents excellent value for money and allows us to operate this facility and maintain investment.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

 

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