People in Edinburgh will vote next month in a referendum on whether or not to introduce congestion charges in the city.
Edinburgh is following London, where charges are in force
The city council is planning two cordons with drivers being charged £2 to enter the zone.
But many residents will be unable to vote either because they have failed to declare their interest on time or because they have registered not to receive "junk" mail and this will prevent them from receiving ballot papers.
Are you among those who can't vote? If so, how do you feel about it? Opinions are divided on the question of the tolls themselves - tell us what you think.
I fail to see what the alternative is to congestion charging. It has worked in London and it can work here. It Is blatantly clear that action must be taken to tackle air pollution and congestion in Edinburgh. The 40% of Edinburgh households who don't even own a car, yet suffer the effects of air pollution, all stand to benefit from improved public transport that this scheme can facilitate and should vote yes in this referendum.
As a train and cycle-using commuter I would normally welcome congestion charging but Edinburgh's scheme is nothing more than an "alien's tax". Why is it that a vehicle travelling into the city from S. Queensferry is NOT causing "congestion" when one from Penicuik or Broxburn is? Those who are allowed to vote will not have to pay.
Jim Jackson, FIFE
The only effect that the congestion charge will have is to further damage the trade in the city centre, on Princes Street particularly, as more and more people shop in out of city retail parks which more effectively suit their needs. You can only start making it more difficult to use cars when the public transport improvements are in place, not making it more difficult to use cars to pay for proposed improvements.
I lived in Thailand for many years and there is no doubt that they have more congestion than Edinburgh's half-hearted attempt, but they also have a proper solution. In the past 10 years they have built a skytrain above the roads, an underground below the roads, a massive ring road that goes all the way round the city and toll motorways cutting across the city elevated above existing (free) roads. This is the right way to do it, not to charge people to use roads they've already paid for 10 times over that don't even get maintained. As Bangkok is reaping the benefits of its forward thinking, Edinburgh will be reaping the disbenefits of its backward thinking. Good Luck to them - they'll need it
As a former resident of South Queensferry I can recall the normal half hour trip in to the centre of Edinburgh, across the Cramond Bridge, taking up to one-and-a-half hours at rush hour. Surely anything is better than what the people of Edinburgh have to put up with at the moment. Will it reduce the number of cars going into town? Almost certainly yes. Then if I was living in South Queensferry, it'd get my vote, even though I would be one of those who would be paying. All that other stuff about loss of business and mass protests and so forth is just scare stories. Sure there might be some problems, but it can't be any worse than being stuck in your car for an hour-and-a-half every day to travel a mere 10 miles. I can jog in faster than that.
George Masterton, sweden (scot)
Go for it! London is a great success. It is now pleasant to be in the centre of London without having to fear being run over. I wish they would introduce congestion charges to New York! Imagine what a change it will do! Edinburgh will greatly benefit from such a scheme. (Not to mention the very fact that at the same time this debate goes on, experts in Scotland worried over an increase in storms are asking for less emission gases all over the world). Less cars in the city will give a better way of life - and not just in Edinburgh!
JB, New York City
I am not opposed to congestion charging per se, however it needs to be a fair system. The proposed plan will see the residents outside Edinburgh paying for the improvements in public transport within Edinburgh, what about improvements in public transport from East and West Lothain, from Fife? I also find the fact that Edinburgh residents who live outside the cordon being exempt, surely must be illegal? If the plan in its current state is implemented, I for one will look for a job outside Edinburgh, or investigate the possibility of working from home.
Edinburgh's congestion charge cannot be compared to London's in any way. In London there are Tube, main line and bus services, in Edinburgh there is a duopoly of bus companies and that is it. Suburban rail is non-existent and the tram system will almost definitely never appear, despite being "paid for" by the tolls! London also only charges for a small central area (soon to expand). Edinburgh's charge is for anyone crossing the line of the bypass. And as for paying to use the worst maintained roads in Scotland, according to the AA... I have no problem with the principle of paying for what I use but I expect that the service for which I am paying is actually worth the money. The council would be better off investing in the infrastructure and forcing providers to improve transport to and from Edinburgh first and then many more commuters could actually find a viable alternative. At this point the cart is being placed 10 miles in front of the horse. The whole scheme can only benefit retailers in Glasgow, Livingston and East Kilbride.
Douglas Kinloch, Livingston
The congestion charge is merely a new tax. If the council was serious about reducing traffic it would not have allowed the huge office development at the Gyle and the new RBS building which forces residents who used to work in the centre of town to get into their cars to drive to work. Any small reduction in city centre traffic is far outweighed by the real congestion problems at the Gyle and Sheriff Hall. A small amount of money spent on those roundabouts would reduce both congestion and pollution.
David Aitken, Edinburgh
I'm particularly sick and tired of all the whingers and whiners on this subject! Why can't we just get on and do it like they did in London. London now has less traffic congestion, better air quality, a better all-round environment. As someone who comes from Edinburgh it pains me to admit that the city centre of London is currently a more pleasant place than the city centre of Edinburgh - we need to change that, and change it fast.
Julie Marshall, Edinburgh
Bearing in mind the stress and aggravation caused by driving in such a city, I can't for the life of me see how anyone would want to drive in Edinburgh. The council, furthermore, owns the buses, which means that Edinburgh actually has a good alternative to the car, unlike Glasgow, whose bus network has been privatised and deregulated to death.
Gregor Smith, Glasgow
As an Edinburgh resident who lives outside the outer cordon, I fully support the road tolls (as long as I don't have to pay). My only concern is the 'Big Brother' aspect where everyone's car registration will be read so it is another way for the government to 'track' the movements of the people!
David Ravie, South Queensferry
Reading the comments on this website I haven't spotted one single alternative to congestion charging? Strange that.
Peter L Barker, Edinburgh
At last we're seeing some politicians with the backbone to follow through their transport plans to actual implementation. I see no alternative on offer from all the "nae-sayers" - congestion charging is the only way ahead as London has shown us.
Jenny Wales, Edinburgh
Well done Edinburgh City Council for pressing ahead with the referendum! I'm entirely confident that the people of Edinburgh will vote yes to less traffic and cleaner air; just like they now have in London.
Alan J Boston, Edinburgh
I work in Edinburgh but live in the west, so I will not be given a say in the referendum. I do not agree with the congestion charge as I spend enough money as it is getting to work by car. Which has proven to be cheaper than the public transport available to me. The people of Edinburgh should stand as one and reject this plan.
Liam Chambers, Wishaw
I live on the outskirts of the city, with very little public transport, which is somewhat unreliable. I therefore bring my car to work, as do others I work with. I object to the road tolls in the fact I don't have a choice for getting work, I pay road tax, car insurance and high petrol prices for the privilege of driving into work. Another worker lives in the city but brings his car to work, he is a 20 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride (of which he lives on a major bus route) but insists in driving to work every day and still moans about the traffic. Why, then, are the people that have to drive into the city being penalised for having no alternatives when the actual people causing the congestion are those very people that live in the city.
Living outwith the city centre in a different council area we won't benefit from the extra revenue raised. Our local council are against the ban - lets hope they put up a good fight!
The government need to sort out priorities and until a proper public transport infrastructure is in place for all areas outside the city - at reasonable prices to be able to afford to travel - then they need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their plans.
Faye, West Lothian
Congestion charging for Edinburgh is essential for the future wellbeing of the city, but it will only work if substantial investment is put into infrastructure in Fife and West, Mid and East Lothian. Many people from these districts have no option but to use their cars. Investment in rail and tram services is the way forward rather than the bus park and rides that already exist and do little to take the real number of cars off the road.
As one of the people who drive across Edinburgh every day, I actually agree with the congestion charge. Something has to be done about the traffic and anything that discourages myself and others to use the car should be applauded.
Why should it just be people in Edinburgh vote for congestion charges when it also affects people in the surrounding areas that commute in. we know the point is to reduce the amount of cars on the roads but the money in this proposal should be spent on improving public transport not fining people for the incompetence of the government who cannot give a decent public transport service. we pay our taxes for the public service that is unsuitable to meet many peoples' requirements
Chris Bell, Dalgety Bay
It's not just the Edinburgh people who can't vote that this affects - what about those of us who would have lived in the city were it not for extortionate house prices and have been forced to move to other areas outwith the cordon? If we couldn't afford to live in the city, how are we expected to pay the charges (including bridge tolls from Fife) in order to be able to see elderly family and friends on a frequent basis? This plan must be stopped to prevent Edinburgh descending even further into an elite area within Scotland where you are only able to live/travel to if you (a) can afford it or (b) have the fortune of already owning a home there prior to the house boom. Is this really what we want for a 21st century Scotland? I think not. Instead of introducing these ridiculous charges, the money that this initiative has already cost should have instead been ploughed into improving public transport (cost and reliability) in order to give people both within and outwith the city a viable, and cost effective, alternative to congestion charges.
The present council has been doing its best to ruin commerce in Edinburgh and the biased nature of the question for the referendum only serves to underscore this. I only hope people realise that how they vote will have zero effect on any aspect of the transportation policy except tolls. The publicity is extremely misleading and is another example of the duplicity of this council. I will be voting no and urge every thinking person to do the same. The really sad bit is that most of this "congestion" has been deliberately engineered by the council when they close off streets and then narrow down the "arteries" that are left open. Anyone who believes Edinburgh has a traffic problem should visit Bangkok - although the standard of driving in Edinburgh is way below that which I have encountered anywhere in the world.
Edinburgh proposes to exempt Edinburgh council tax payers living outside the cordon, despite the public enquiry saying that removal of this exemption is 'essential' and despite their own TIE company urging the removal of this farcical exemption. They are then putting a loaded question (it includes the word preferred) accompanied by a propaganda leaflet to a gerrymandered electorate who if they vote for the plan will not have to pay the charges. Lothian residents don't get a vote but will have to pay this unfair and probably illegal tax. There will be legal challenges, boycotts of Edinburgh business and probably direct action to create city centre traffic chaos in protest. Edinburgh tax payers will finish up with huge bills over many years for a poorly thought out scheme that won't even solve the problems. For many Lothian residents there are no public transport alternatives and a few bus lanes with no buses in them is not the integrated transport plan we need BEFORE any tolls are brought it.
John Davies, Penicuik
As an Edinburgh council tax payer for five years and as someone registered on the electoral role, I was very concerned to discover that neither myself nor my partner were on the list to vote. Surely it would not have beyond the capabilities of the council to have reconciled two or three lists to work out who lives in the city! Quite extraordinary. I would probably have voted for the scheme, but the poor way in which it has been instigated makes me wonder about whether the council are up to managing it properly.
F. Montgomery, Edinburgh,
As someone who drives into Edinburgh I actually welcome it. It will speed up traffic, encourage more car sharing and it will put more people on public transport. Edinburgh has had poor policies on transport in the past, this is forward thinking and progressive, added to the planned trams and rail links to the borders and to the airport, Edinburgh will start to become more like the European city than the large car park that it is now!
A Kilpatrick, East Lothian
It must be illegal (it is certainly immoral and unethical) to have a referendum where who knows how many people are denied a vote! I'm totally opposed to the congestion charge, particularly as I live in central Edinburgh. But the most urgent action to be taken is to improve our public transport system before the congestion tax is introduced.
Norma Bain, Edinburgh
Just another Labour stealth tax on the silent majority with bribes for the people in Lothian who live outside the cordon but can vote.
Jim, Kirkcaldy, Fife