Nov 23 2011 by Gary Stewart, Heswall News
WIRRAL businesses have warned that closing the Mersey tunnels during next week’s public sector strikes could be a “step too far”.
Ferry services will also be halted and schools are expected to close on Wednesday, November 30 if public transport, health and council workers staff stage a planned walk out in a dispute over pensions.
Unions say the action means Wirral will effectively be closed for the day.
Wirral Council warned it is expecting “significant disruption” and has appealed to unions to allow some vital services to be staffed.
Merseyrail trains and privately operated bus companies will run normally but cross-river services will stop at Hamilton Square.
One Wirral businessman said closing the tunnels risked creating public resentment – but unions said they had been left with no choice.
Chris Johnson, managing partner of Birkenhead-based property firm Smith and Sons, said: “We anticipate the planned strikes will have a fairly significant impact on our business.
“We understand that whilst people must take a stand, the closure of both tunnels is perhaps taking the campaign too far and will create public resentment rather than support.”
But Danny Doyle, of Birkenhead Market, said he believed the strikes could boost Wirral retailers if commuters decided not to travel to Liverpool on the day.
He said: “It could be a positive thing. Now that we’ve got the new car parks and free after 3 parking, we could benefit.”
Members of Unite confirmed a ballot for strike action last week by a three to one margin, joining Unison, UCATT and GMB.
They say government changes to pensions will mean they have to pay more, work longer and receive less when they retire.
Police, ambulance and fire engines will still be able to use the Wallasey tunnel on emergency business.
Joint Trade Union convenor Roger Irvine added: “All those doing this vital work will be donating their pay for the day to Clatterbridge Hospital.”
Merseyrail said it would accept cross-river bus tickets and Solo tickets and ferry tickets on the day to help cross-river travellers.
Wirral TUC has organised a march from Birkenhead Park to Hamilton Square on November 30, starting at 10.20am, in support of the strikes.