Tunnels clampdown on crime
A total of 173
vehicles were stop-checked by police as part of a clampdown on crime
through the Mersey Tunnels overnight from 10.45pm Friday, 27 June
2008 through to 3.30am Saturday, 28 June 2008.
Mersey Tunnels Police coordinated the joint agency “Operation
Mercury”, launched to tackle illegal taxis, dangerous cars
and drink drivers. The operation, based at the Kings Square
exit of the Queensway Tunnel, was supported by Customs and Excise,
VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) and taxi licensing
officers from Wirral and Liverpool.
Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- "The
safety and security of drivers using the tunnels is paramount. This
is an important operation and one that supports the Tunnel Police’s
high visibility patrols. Illegal drivers and drink drivers are
not welcome. The two tunnels are the safest in the country and we
want to keep them that way.”
During the operation 16 drivers were breathalysed. One man was
arrested on suspicion of drink driving (charged with failing to
provide a specimen of blood) and a search was carried out on one
vehicle under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Cllr Dowd added:-
“It is surprising that officers had to conduct this many road
side tests. It shows the need for continued vigilance.”
Mersey Tunnels Police issued two fixed penalty notices for tyre
offences, one fixed penalty notice for driving a vehicle in a
dangerous condition and two stop notices for possible insurance
offences. HM Customs and Excise launched a prosecution for the
illegal use of red diesel and enquiries are ongoing to trace the
source. VOSA issued 20 immediate prohibition notices and five
delayed notices for vehicles deemed unroadworthy because of defects
or faults. Liverpool Taxi Enforcement team suspended four taxi
drivers and seized their plates. In total 14 default notices were
served and six prosecutions launched. Wirral Taxi Enforcement
team suspended five taxi drivers and seized their plates, issuing
one default notice.
Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel
added:- "The Mersey Tunnels have an extremely good safety
record and this project is a great example of agencies working
together to tackle crime and enforce the laws there to protect us.
We have spent millions of pounds upgrading and improving both
tunnels, including the new escape chambers in Queensway. It is
important our enforcement matches that commitment."
Operation Mercury was set up to detect and prosecute unroadworthy
cars and other vehicles, illegal taxis and drivers and a range of
other offences. The aim of the operation is to promote a safer
environment in and around the Mersey Tunnels and their approach
roads. Previous operations have also included Merseyside
Police and officers from the Immigration Service and Benefit Fraud
Sandhills Station Re-opens
Station on Monday, 7 July 2008 has been re-open to passengers.
Although major elements of the £6million works are still underway,
the re-opening is a major milestone in the project. It will
mean the station is open for use in time for the Tall Ships and Open
Golf as an interchange for Southport and the Ormskirk and Kirkby
lines on Merseyrail’s Northern Line. Neil Scales, Chief
Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, said:- “It was
vital that the contractors completed sufficient works to reopen the
station to passengers in what will be a very busy few weeks. We have
been pushing hard behind the scenes to make sure this important
deadline was reached and limit any impact on passengers. Some major
works are still underway but the result will be a fantastic
regeneration project and an addition to the network. Sandhills a
very important station for many people.”
Unfortunately, because of the ongoing works the station will not be
accessible for disabled passengers or passengers with prams or
bicycles. Anyone needing an accessible station for interchange
between the Northern Lines is urged to continue to use Moorfields
Station for the time being. The transformation of Sandhills
Station includes a raft of new improvements including a new ticket
office and booking hall, unisex disabled toilet at platform level,
resurfaced platform and glazed canopy together with two new fully
enclosed waiting rooms to provide better protection for waiting
passengers. The work will also include upgrading the station
lighting, a new CCTV system and improved access to the station with
a DDA compliant ramp and new lift to provide step free access from
street level up to the station platforms. Merseytravel is
funding the project with support from the Department for Transport
(£1.4million) and ERDF through the Merseyside Objective One funding
Restored to glory
Mersey Tunnels tollbooth has been saved from the scrap heap and
restored to its former glory.
The painstaking operation to renovate the booth, designed by Herbert
Rouse and one of only four original booths used at Old Haymarket,
took more than 500 man-hours.
Now it takes pride of place outside Merseytravel’s Tunnel HQ,
Georges Dock Building.
Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel said:- “This was a
piece of history that almost slipped from our grasp. Now we are
proud to give it back to the city.”
The booth was sold to Haydock Racecourse in 1963, after being deemed
no longer suitable for toll staff, where it was used to sell Tote
cards until the mid 1980s.
Battered and dilapidated after being exposed to the elements, the
booth began leaking and falling apart.
It was about to go to the scrap yard when Don Sidebottom, Chairman
of Glasdon Group Ltd, who make the current Mersey Tunnel tollbooths,
Don said:- “I just couldn’t let it go, it is an intrinsically
valuable building. I arranged for it to be taken back to my works in
Blackpool and kept it stored for 22 years.
When I heard Merseytravel was a partner in European Capital of
Culture I mentioned it to them. And that’s when this whole process
began. It is fantastic to see it back to its best.”
Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel,
said:- “For us European Capital of Culture is a time to
celebrate our rich history and give something back to the people of
Merseyside. That’s why we decided to fund this restoration and
unveil the booth in this very special year.”
Despite being in a terrible condition, the booth was moved to
Birkenhead restoration specialists Tarin Engineering and the
meticulous restoration process began.
Cement asbestos was
removed and everything was stripped down to bare metal and sprayed
Mersey Tunnel green. Identical cast aluminium and bronze
panels were created from scratch, a new floor and roof was built,
and new windows and safety glass installed. The original brass
switches were also refurbished and reinstated.
and listed building consent were given and the booth was installed
at the North Plaza of George’s Dock Building.
After it was fixed
down, specialists gilded the booth to complete its renaissance from
wreck to lasting legacy of the opening of the first Mersey Tunnel.