Calls for Tyne Tunnel tolls to be scrapped for NHS staff and key workers during coronavirus crisis
A South Shields grandmother has called for Tyne Tunnels to waive the tolls for NHS staff travelling to work during the coronavirus outbreak.
Sylvia Burton, whose granddaughter works for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, says key workers shouldn’t have to pay to travel through the tunnel in these unprecedented times.
Ellise Burton-Calderwood, 20, of Boldon Lane, is an administrator, currently based at the RVI.
Along with many other essential workers, including those on the frontline of the crisis, she is having to pay the daily £1.80 fee to cross the Tyne.
“Under normal circumstances Ellise would get the Metro, but she’s trying to protect herself and other people,” said Mrs Burton, 68.
“The tunnels should be free in this difficult time. Anyone who is on the road is doing a job - they are not travelling for fun.”
The grandmother-of-two continued: “It’s not just NHS workers, it’s all key workers.
“I was shocked to find out that they are not getting concessionary passes.”
On Monday, March 23 Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought in strict new measures to try to curb the spread of Covid-19, effectively putting the country in lockdown.
Only those classed as key workers, are allowed to continue travelling in order to provide essential services.
“It’s a horrible situation that we are all going through, but these are key workers who we need the most", said Mrs Burton.
“They deserve our support.”
TT2 Limited, which operates the tunnels, says it does not have the authority to make decisions on the toll fee and therefore did not wish to comment.
A spokesperson for the North East Joint Transport Committee said: “The NHS has not asked us to provide free passage through the Tunnels for health workers, and there is not a simple way this can be applied to one group of users as they drive through.
“Our focus is keeping the tunnels open at a time when we have a reduced workforce to allow all users access during this difficult time."