It was moved by Councillor L Bones and seconded by Councillor P McIntyre that:
Council notes the difficulties some residents have faced with the change in Tyne Tunnel payment to a cashless service. At present residents have to pay the toll online or at a Paypoint by midnight the day after their journey. Some residents have been shocked by the lack of publicity around the changes in advance of their introduction, and some residents have reported fines being issues despite tolls having been paid.
Council also notes that a petition has been running online (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/tyne-tunnel-fines) and has, at time of writing, received over 10,000 signatures. That petition asks that TT2:
“1. Cancel all unpaid toll charges issued in the last 6 months prior to 1st January 2022.
2. Increase the time period for which to 'pay later' from 48 hours to 5 working days.
3. Engage in a concerted advertising campaign to ensure people are fully aware of how the Tyne Tunnel now works and encourage frequent travellers to sign up for a pre-paid account.
4. Scrap the current penalty charge system and replace with the following more ethical structure: For those who miss their deadline to pay should receive an initial fine of no more than £20, which should be reduced to £5.00 if paid within 14 days of the date the fine was generated. These amounts are more ethical and affordable to the average user of the Tyne Tunnel - many of whom come from working class backgrounds or may be suffering from hardship due to the current economic climate. If paying a penalty charge then the original 'toll fare' should be taken out of the fine paid so that people are not being charged extra. If a person fails to pay the initial £20 fine within 28 days, it should rise to no more than £40 and only after a period of 42 days should this be passed to a debt collection agency where "additional administrative charges" of no more than a further £25 should be added.
5. Review the appeals process and produce clear guidance that is publicly available on what the policies of TT2 Limited are in relation to travel through the tunnel, what the toll prices are, and the penalty charge procedures. Ensuring that each individual case is considered carefully and with sensitivity.”
(Petition © Gary Spedding)
Council therefore asks the Mayor to write to TT2 asking them to take the action requested in the petition.
A recorded vote on the Motion, was requested by two Members present.
The Motion, on being put to the meeting, was defeated by 28 votes to 9 votes.