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Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 19:03 GMT
More councils back road tolls
Councils say they must cut road congestion
More motorists could face road tolls after it was revealed council leaders across the country are considering the charges.

Many areas have indicated they are interested in making drivers pay for taking their vehicles into town centres and along busy roads.

Cities such as London and Bristol have already made their intentions clear to bring in the controversial congestion penalties.

But motoring organisations say the public are opposed to the plans and are sceptical cash will be ploughed back into public transport.

We have to attack the problem around peak hours and look at the increasing congestion

Helen Holland, Bristol's transport chairwoman

A national newspaper reported that 35 local authorities had contacted the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) about setting up the schemes.

The Mail on Sunday says authorities interested include Manchester, Leeds, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire and the Isle of Wight.

However a spokesman for the DTLR refused to confirm which local authorities have been in touch with the department.

He said: "Some councils have been putting feelers out to tell the department they are interested.

"We are certainly interested in this area."

London's Mayor Ken Livingstone has already spelled out his plans to make motorists pay a 5 congestion charge for entering the centre of the capital during rush hour from next February.

Transport future

Bristol is also exploring the idea of road tolls but has pledged to put the charges on hold until it has built a new light railway system for the city.

The toll plans follow on from a White Paper on the future of transport which suggested that local authorities could consider charging motorists.

A spokeswoman for the Automobile Association said: "We have carried out a survey in Bristol about the plan for charging motorists and we found the majority of people were not in favour.

"They did not think enough was being spent on public transport and were also unsure that money raised from the scheme would be put back into public transport.

Charges 'viable'

"If people were to start leaving their cars at home there has to be adequate public transport to cope or the system will not work.

Helen Holland, Bristol's chairwoman of transport, said: "Our work on tolling was built on consultation which involved both residents and businesses.

"We have to attack the problem around peak hours and look at the increasing congestion and what this costs businesses.

"We know that providing better alternatives isn't enough - there has to be restraint measures and a lot of cities now are thinking one viable option is toll charges."

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See also:

18 Feb 02 | England
Road toll could be delayed
25 Oct 01 | England
Road tolls option for city
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