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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
McConnell impressed by road tolls
London traffic
London introduced congestion charging last year
First Minister Jack McConnell has outlined his support for congestion charges in Scotland.

Mr McConnell was speaking after talks in London with the city's Mayor Ken Livingstone.

The first minister said he was "very impressed" with the scheme currently being used in London.

He said that Scotland will have to face up to the issue at some point. Edinburgh Council wants to introduce a 2 daily charge to enter the city.

London's 5-a-day charge for entering a central zone began in February last year.

It is estimated there has been a 30% reduction in congestion since then, with car journey times cut on average by 14%.

First Minister Jack McConnell
If in Edinburgh they are able to put together a viable scheme that has local support I will be pleased
Jack McConnell
Mr McConnell said Scotland could learn from London's example in how to reduce car use, improve public transport and tackling pollution.

He said: "I am personally a supporter of action to reduce congestion.

"If in Edinburgh they are able to put together a viable scheme that has local support I will be very pleased."

Edinburgh City council wants to introduce a charge for traffic passing through two charging cordons.

If given the go-ahead, the charges would take effect from spring 2006.

'Better use of cars'

The first minister said Scotland should also consider reducing motorway congestion by reserving lanes for motorists who share their cars for commuter journeys.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has revealed a "carpooling" pilot scheme to reserve lanes for cars carrying two or more people on the M1 in England.

Mr McConnell said: "We need to be open to that.

"I'm very keen to look at best examples of policies that can encourage better use of cars."

The first minister travelled to London on Monday for a three-day visit in which he is aiming to improve Scotland's image to the outside world.

He has attended the unveiling of the memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, in Hyde Park.

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