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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 20:15 GMT
Motorists attack bridge toll rise
Forth Road Bridge - picture courtesy of Undiscovered Scotland
The increase would be the first on the Forth Road Bridge since 1986
Growing numbers of motorists oppose plans to raise car tolls on the Forth Road Bridge, an inquiry has been told.

Tom Minogue, of Fifers Against Toll Increases, claimed to have received up to 100 phone calls and e-mails backing his stance on the 20p increase.

The inquiry, which will cost the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta) 1.1m in income, was triggered by a lone protest by a Fife motorist.

Feta says the rise is necessary to prevent a 30m debt burden.

The two-day inquiry at the Corus Hotel in North Queensferry has heard that if the proposed new toll of 1 was thrown out, the debts incurred in running and maintaining the bridge would spiral to 29.17m by 2018.

The rise in tolls would be the first to be imposed since 1986.

'Nonsense' claims

But Mr Minogue, giving evidence to the inquiry, said local people were increasingly against the move.

He attacked the suggestion that George Campbell, whose letter of complaint prompted the inquiry, was a 'lone wolf' with no public support.

Mr Minogue said: "Mr Campbell was portrayed as the only person with an objection in principle to Feta's proposals and by implication every other user of the Forth Road Bridge was content with the proposed increase in the level of tolls.

"Of course this is nonsense. I, in common with many others, object to paying a 25% increase in tolls."

I, in common with many others, object to paying a 25% increase in tolls
Tom Minogue, Fifers Against Toll Increases
Mr Campbell, a 57-year-old local authority worker, stood by his right to protest at the tolls.

He said: "It is a point of principle and I had my right to legally object to it and I have done that."

Mr Campbell argues the increase is unnecessary as the cost of building the bridge has been paid off and tolls already generate millions for maintenance.

"I am hoping common sense will prevail and they will see 180m has been paid for and the Scottish Executive should stand up and be accountable for maintenance after the surplus of 20m has been used," he said.

'Only option'

Feta has argued the higher tolls are necessary to carry out resurfacing work and a 65m repainting programme over the next 12 years.

General manager Alastair Andrew said the tolls increase was the only option for Feta to maintain the 40-year-old bridge.

He said: "Within the legislation currently available, the only way to ensure we have the continued income to carry out these major works was to apply for these tolls increases."

Reporter Malcolm Mahony is expected to produce his findings in the New Year.


SEE ALSO:
Toll rise 'needed to meet costs'
06 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Lone toll man cross over bridge
20 Aug 04 |  Scotland
Electronic tolls on road bridge
03 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Estimates for new bridge revealed
18 Jun 04 |  Scotland


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