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EDITIONS
Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
City drivers face 2 road charge
Princes Street, Edinburgh
Money raised would fund transport improvements
Motorists could be charged 2 a day to drive into the centre of Scotland's capital under plans to cut congestion in Edinburgh.

The city council says that the move would raise 50m a year to increase investment in public transport.

The proposals, which are aimed at reducing traffic levels in the city centre by 15%, will go out to public consultation next week.


We cannot simply stick our heads in the sand and do nothing

Andrew Burns
Edinburgh City Council
A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said 250,000 questionnaires would be sent out to people in the Lothian and Borders area.

The scheme being proposed would introduce cordons at the city bypass and the city centre.

Drivers would be charged 2 a day if they passed either of the cordons between the hours of 0700 and 1900 BST.

The cordons would contain cameras able to read the vehicle number plates and the fees would be pre-paid by credit card or at shops and garages.

The options on the questionnaire will include a double cordon, a single cordon or doing nothing at all.

Car ownership

However, the council's executive member for transport, Andrew Burns, argued that retaining the status quo was not an option.

"I am fairly confident that when people see the proposals for the city they will support change," he said.

"We cannot simply stick our heads in the sand and do nothing.

Car light
Cars would be detected at cordons
"The problem is not going to go away as car ownership is set to increase significantly."

The aim is to introduce the system by 2006 if it wins the backing of the public.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive refused to say whether similar schemes would be introduced in other cities if it proved a success in Edinburgh.

"It is up to the local authorities to make decisions about congestion charging and no formal proposal has been made by Edinburgh City Council," she said.

Deputy Enterprise Minister Lewis MacDonald said several local authorities were examining new ways of addressing congestion problems - and acknowledged they would be looking "very closely" at any such scheme in Edinburgh.

Transport infrastructure

"Clearly what people are looking for across Scotland is improvements in the public transport network and improvements in the public transport infrastructure," he said.

However, Scottish National Party transport spokesman Kenny MacAskill warned: "At the present moment it would be a disaster for city centres because we do not have the transport infrastructure in place in terms of public transport."

He predicted that there would be a "flight" of businesses from city centre shopping streets to nearby towns like East Kilbride and Livingston.

He said this would undermine the urban regeneration of the cities.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Fiona Walker reports
"Not everyone sees congestion charges as the way forward"
See also:

01 Jun 02 | UK Politics
26 Feb 02 | UK
04 Sep 01 | Scotland
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