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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Bridge tolls reinstated 'in days'
Erskine Bridge
Tolls were suspended on the Erskine Bridge
An emergency Bill in the Scottish Parliament allowing the reinstatement of tolls on the Erskine Bridge has been passed.

The 60 pence toll on the bridge, to the west of Glasgow, is now expected to be back in place within days.

MSPs voted to pass the Scottish Executive's Erskine Bridge Tolls Bill by 78 votes to 26, with no abstentions, on Thursday afternoon.

The government has lost over 100,000 since the toll was suspended a week ago when it was discovered a civil servant had failed to renew the order under which the money is collected.

Sarah Boyack
Sarah Boyack: Ordered an inquiry

The Scottish National Party fought the Bill during its day-long passage through the Scottish Parliament, arguing that it was being rushed through without proper consultation.

Nationalist MSP for South of Scotland, Adam Ingram, said the situation was not a national emergency and the move by the Scottish Executive was "quick political fix" to a "huge political embarrassment".

About 24,000 cars a day have been crossing the bridge for free since it was discovered that civil servants forgot to apply to renew the licence to charge tolls.

The oversight meant tolls had been levied illegally.

Legal powers to levy the tolls were not renewed on 2 July - meaning that more than 800,000 has been collected from drivers without authority.

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack ordered an inquiry into the administrative oversight, and said it was a "deeply unfortunate error that should not have happened".

Mr Ingram said: "It is vital that public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny precedes legislation.

"Only by adhering to this democratic practise will we stay faithful to the founding principles of the Scottish Parliament.

"This is neither a responsible nor democratic approach by the government and sets a very dangerous precedent within this parliament."

Brian Taylor reports
"Motorists are still crossing the bridge for free"
See also:

31 Aug 01 | Scotland
Fury over bridge tolls blunder
12 Sep 00 | Scotland
Ruling forces Skye toll increase
26 Jun 00 | Scotland
Skye tolls 'illegal'
30 Nov 99 | Scotland
VAT threat to bridge tolls
07 Sep 99 | Scotland
Drivers 'face more toll costs'
04 Nov 99 | Scotland
Roads plans prompt mixed reactions
04 Nov 99 | Scotland
Green light for roads projects
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