Corporate Services Cabinet Member – minutes – 1 June 2009

271 (1) SALE OF HUMBER BRIDGE TICKETS – The Service Directors Community, Planning and Resources and Finance submitted an urgent report seeking to determine the council’s position on the sale to the public and businesses of Humber Bridge tickets from council offices.

The council sold all classes of Humber Bridge tickets to the public and businesses for the Humber Bridge Board. It did this at Church Square House cash office, and Brigg and Barton Local Links.

The sale of tickets cost the council around £13,500 in staff time and £5,000 in security during 2008/2009. The council received no revenue from the Humber Bridge Board to sell tickets on its behalf; council tax payers in North Lincolnshire were in effect subsidising the sale of tickets for the Bridge Board.

The sale of tickets took place at a time when the four Humber Unitary authorities, the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, local MPs and regional bodies were actively seeking Ministerial approval to abolish or significantly reduce the toll. There was also a very real possibility that another increase in the toll would take effect shortly. The council had been informed this week that the Secretary of State for Transport had now received the Inspector’s report and recommendations from the March 2009 Public Inquiry. A decision on whether to grant the Humber Bridge Board its request to increase the toll, with immediate effect, was expected at any time. The evidence from previous public inquiries suggests an increase will be approved.

The matter was urgent on the basis that any increase to tolls was likely to take effect from July. The revised procedures needed to be in place by then and one-month notice period was required for members of the public to be made aware of the new arrangements.

Humber Bridge toll tickets were available direct from the Humber Bridge Board offices, and its web site and from five other locations in the Humber sub region. Cleethorpes TIC was one of these sites and charged 50p for each transaction.

The council’s Church Square House cash office was classed as its corporate cash office. It was always intended Local Link offices would only take receipt of smaller amounts of money in handling a wider enquiry e.g. Bulky Item collection. Staffing and security levels were set accordingly. Continuing to sell Bridge tickets at Brigg and Barton Local Links had compromised that strategy. This needed to be resolved. The aim was for Brigg and Barton Local Links to be developed into ‘hub’ outlets, bringing key council services together in the near future. This was in line with the council’s Customer Service Strategy.

Resolved – (a) That the proposal to sell all six classes of Humber Bridge ticket from Church Square House only, as set out in the report, be approved, (b) that customers be given notice that the change would take affect from 1 July 2009, which could also coincide with an increase in the Humber Bridge toll, if approved by the Secretary of State, (c) that the decision be reviewed after a period of 12 months, and (d) that a further report be submitted to the Cabinet Member at that time.