A businessman was left shocked after police turned up at his door just hours after a dispute over a Tyne Tunnel toll surcharge.
Seth Malik found himself talking to police after finding he had no change as he approached the Tyne Tunnel’s toll booths on Sunday morning.
The gym manager from Cheltenham Drive, Boldon Colliery, alerted staff and asked to use his debit card, but was told there would be a £1 surcharge on top of the usual £1.60 fee – which isn’t advertised.
Mr Malik was happy to pay the toll, but refused to pay the surcharge and was told this wasn’t possible, so he’d have to be escorted back south through the tunnel.
However, as he manoeuvred his vehicle, Mr Malik says he lost sight of the escort driver and instead continued on his way north, planning to pay the fee the next morning on his way to work.
However, six hours later, an officer from Northumbria Police was at his door.
It’s bad enough that the Tyne Tunnel doesn’t give you any change if you overpay, but to charge a pound for paying with a card. I don’t make any of my customers do this.
Tunnel bosses today insisted motorists had a responsibility to make sure they could pay the necessary toll.
Mr Malik said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I offered to pay the £1.60, but not the £1 surcharge. There are no notices saying a surcharge can be levied.
“I think it’s a disgrace that I had the police at my door over my refusal to pay a pound.
“To say I was shocked was an understatement.
“Considering all of the cutbacks going on, surely Northumbria Police have more important matters and unsolved crimes to be concentrating on?
“It’s bad enough that the Tyne Tunnel doesn’t give you any change if you overpay, but to charge a pound for paying with a card. I don’t make any of my customers do this.”
Mr Malik, who returned home on Sunday through Gateshead, has since used the tunnel to travel twice – and paid – but says he says he will only pay his outstanding £1.60 when Tyne Tunnel bosses get in touch with him.
A spokesman for Tyne Tunnel operator TT2 Limited confirmed there is no signage advertising the surcharge.
He added: “When a motorist uses the tunnels, there is a responsibility upon them to pay, and upon us to collect the appropriate and clearly-signposted toll.
“If a motorist leaves without payment, then we must take relevant action to retrieve those funds, not least to deter non-payment of tolls.
“The motorist was informed of the surcharge for credit card payment when this facility was offered due to their lack of cash.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police added: “At 10.59am on Sunday, June 21, police received a report of a motorist failing to make payment at the Tyne Tunnel.
“The report was passed to an officer on patrol in the area, and at 4.22pm the officer attended an address in Cheltenham Drive, Boldon Colliery, advising the motorist to return to the Tyne Tunnel and settle the payment.”