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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Drivers charged to cut congestion
Durham city centre's new toll scheme payment machine
Drivers will have to pay 2 to use the short road
The UK's first scheme to charge motorists for driving into a city centre has started in Durham.

From 1000 BST on Tuesday, motorists will be charged 2 for access to Saddler Street - a narrow road which runs through the heart of the historic city.

Durham City Council hopes the charge will ease traffic congestion on a road which is used by 3,000 vehicles every day.

Up to 17,000 pedestrians use the same stretch of cobbled street, which is wide enough for just one vehicle at a time.

Durham County Council leader Ken Manton said he believed the world was watching with interest.

He said: "The intention is to remove cars and vehicles from this area which have no legitimate reason to be here.

"As far afield as Japan and Germany people are watching how this scheme is going to work.

"It is a scheme that can be rolled out on a wider scale.

"I'm confident what happens here will be relevant to other parts of the country and if they can learn from us, then all well and good.

"Durham Cathedral was recently voted Britain's best-loved building in a national architectural poll.

"It is important that we manage the very restricted road space that we have, so that everyone can enjoy the historic part of the city."


There appears to be exemptions for the very people causing congestion but not for the goods vehicles that actually need to be there

Jonathan James, FTA

The 2 charge will cover all vehicles using Saddler Street and Market Place between 1000 BST and 1600 BST, Monday to Saturday.

A ticket machine is linked to an automatic bollard in the carriageway, which will lower on payment.

The system is monitored by security cameras and drivers caught dodging the system could be fined up to 30.

But the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has criticised the plan.

Jonathan James, FTA regional policy manager, said: "By charging goods vehicles for entry they are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Charges unfair

"Some goods vehicles can deliver at quieter times of day, outside the charging period, but others will be forced to pay.

"This charge will not change the need for goods to be delivered for shoppers to buy, so why charge it?

"There appears to be exemptions for the very people causing congestion but not for the goods vehicles that actually need to be there."

Exemptions include cars carrying children under the age of nine being taken to school and student buses.

Have you experienced the new road charges in Durham? Send us your views using the form below.

Have your say Charging for access does not reduce the number of vehicles. It just raises more tax revenue. If people want access they will pay the tax, so the only beneficiary is the tax collector. This system is not the answer.
D Allen, Germany


Any historic city has a duty to preserve the environment

Phil, UK
Any historic city has a duty to preserve the environment for future generations, however unpopular this is. I believe that tolls are going to become more common in the future.
Phil, UK

This is a most silly idea - congestion is caused by the many non-essential travellers. Having been a delivery driver in central London for a number of years, it was the visitors that caused the most trouble. The delivery crews know where they need to get to, how long they will be, and normally are in a rush to get all the work done, as they have a schedule to work to. Removing the people without a real need to be there, or charging them to be there would be most refreshing. The city would be a great deal easier to get round, industry would save a fortune on wasted time, as traffic would be that much lighter.
Adam Gale, England

I lived in Durham for three years and the presence of vehicles along Saddler St was a constant annoyance, particularly as the street is not a through road. There is plenty of parking in the centre, and Durham is only small; people should walk more. As for commercial vehicles, there are a whole 18 hours outside the charging period for deliveries - more than enough time! Sorry to rant, but Durham city deserves some respect.
Paul, UK


Hopefully this new toll will encourage drivers to use alternative routes

Nigel, Durham
I think this is one of the council's best ideas. It is extremely dangerous for goods vehicles to drive through this area when pedestrians are around. Unfortunately access still has to be provided for deliveries, but hopefully this new toll will encourage drivers to use alternative routes which will reduce traffic in dangerous areas. Well done the council for one of your more productive ideas.
Nigel, Durham

Typical UK government thinking - all stick and no carrot. Public transport alternatives will reduce congestion, not this continued driver abuse!
Andy Hope, UK

I hope the charges will be enough to protect one of my favourite places. I would approve of much more restrictions.
Dave Brown, Scotland

This is one small step in the right direction. Although unrestricted use of private cars is convenient for the motorist, it is too costly in many other ways.
Jim Smith, UK

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Look North's Tony Baker
"It's something Durham will have to come to terms with"
The BBC's Peter Lane reports from Durham
"Other towns and cities up and down the UK will now be watching Durham very closely"
See also:

01 Oct 02 | England
26 Jul 02 | Scotland
17 Jul 02 | Scotland
20 May 02 | UK
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