GLASGOW City Council officials have suggested introducing tolls on the Clyde Tunnel as a way of raising revenue for the city.

The controversial idea, which has been met with a lukewarm political reaction, could generate around £2.5 million a year for the cash-strapped local authority.

A source close to the ruling SNP group told this newspaper that budget discussions are ongoing, but that the party had no plans for a tunnel toll.

The new minority SNP administration in Glasgow will have to win support for its first budget against a backdrop of funding cuts.

Options are being floated by officials and cross-party talks are underway to discuss how best to protect front line services.

It is understood the suggestion for tolls on the Clyde Tunnel, one of the city’s key transport arteries, came from officials in the Land and Environmental Services department.

The crossing is situated beneath the Clyde, with two parallel tunnel tubes connecting Whiteinch to the north of the Clyde with Govan in the south-west. Over fifteen million trips are believed to be made by motorists every year.

However, the tunnel is expensive to run and it was reported two years ago that the 762-metre stretches face a repair bill of £26m.

In 2016, the Scottish Greens in Glasgow suggested tolls as a revenue-raiser but added that the move was not their preferred option.

Although council sources accept that a toll would generate funds and bolster the city’s environmental credentials, political drawbacks make the policy unattractive.

The SNP Government reaped the political rewards by axing tolls from the Tay and Forth Road bridges, so introducing a charge on motorists in Glasgow would open up the party to allegations of double standards.

The tunnel is also a key route for patients and staff travelling to the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and could be presented as a tax on the sick.

A Scottish Tory council insider said: "Only the SNP administration could think that gridlocking the south and west of Glasgow and making drivers pay for the privilege will grow Glasgow's economy.

“The SNP also boast of abolishing bridge tolls but are thinking of introducing a punitive toll on the Clyde Tunnel. Glasgow’s drivers will be rightly outraged.”

Councillor Martha Wardrop, the Greens’ sustainability spokesperson on the city, said her party would like the tunnel to be funded nationally:

“Green councillors are not convinced of the need to introduce a toll on the tunnel at this time, in part because of the additional £17m secured by Green MSPs as part of the agreement to amend the Scottish Budget. That additional revenue will go some way in protecting services and investment.

“Further still, we now have a new administration in the city that will want to put forward viable and long-term alternatives to such drastic measures to pay for the upkeep of roads. For example, the SNP in Glasgow could persuade ministers in Edinburgh to recognise the national importance of the tunnel and have its maintenance funded in a similar way to the Orkney and Shetland inter-island ferries, saved as part of Green deal on the Scottish Budget.”

A spokesman for the council said: “Officers develop a wide range of options for potential savings or investment that are discussed with political groups as part of the annual budget-setting process.”