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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 08:04 GMT
Fresh call for bridge toll purge
Skye Bridge
Controversial tolls on the Skye Bridge have been scrapped
A Labour MSP has urged the Scottish Executive to reconsider charging tolls on other bridges after it scrapped the controversial Skye Bridge charge.

Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, said the executive should reverse its policy on the Erskine Bridge.

The controversial Skye charges had been in force since the span opened in October 1995.

Labour's Dunfermline East MSP Helen Eadie called for tolls on the Forth Road Bridge to be scrapped.

First Minister Jack McConnell said scrapping the tolls could signal the beginning of a new era on Skye.

BBC Scotland's political correspondent Glenn Campbell said experts were looking at tolls on other bridges across Scotland.

Jackie Baillie MSP
There is absolutely nothing to stop the Scottish Executive lifting the tolls on the Erskine Bridge too
Jackie Baillie MSP
He said it was unlikely that Forth Road Bridge tolls would be scrapped due to fears of an increase in traffic congestion and similar concerns were being expressed over the Tay Bridge.

However, he said the Erskine Bridge was a different prospect as scrapping tolls there could alleviate traffic to and from Glasgow on the Kingston Bridge.

Mr Campbell added that the executive had decided to scrap tolls on the Skye Bridge because it was a central agreement with the Lib Dems in the coalition.

Political support

Ms Baillie said: "There is absolutely nothing to stop the Scottish Executive lifting the tolls on the Erskine Bridge too.

"My argument would be that this bridge is wholly owned by the executive and, it's about time having paid for the bridge five times over, that the people of this area got the tolls lifted."

Mrs Eadie said there was political support building for tolls to be scrapped on the Forth Road Bridge.

"In a recent parliamentary question to Transport Minister Nicol Stephen I asked if the Scottish Executive would be considering the removal of the tolls on the Forth Bridge," she said.

"The background to that question was that the demands were already coming from my MSP colleagues, Jackie Baillie, Trish Godman and Des McNulty, who were arguing for the removal of the tolls on the Erskine Bridge.

'Fair crack of the whip'

"The logic being that if tolls were to be removed on the Skye Bridge not yet paid for, what equity and justice is there in continuing to demand tolls for those bridges in Scotland where they have been completely paid for over and over and over again?"

Mrs Eadie said the transport minister had indicated there would be a review of tolls across Scotland.

She said people living north of the River Forth were not currently getting "a fair crack of the whip".

Under an ongoing review into bridge tolls in Scotland the charges levied on the Erskine Bridge across the River Clyde will also be looked at.

Scotland should lead the way by scrapping all tolls
National Alliance Against Tolls

The West Dunbartonshire bridge carries about 2,000 vehicles a day.

Toll protest group the National Alliance Against Tolls (NAAT) agreed that the government should scrap all bridge charges across Scotland.

A spokesman said: "The executive are reviewing all three remaining tolls (Erskine, Forth and Tay).

"The tolls only amount to 20m a year, but that comes from just a few people.

"Scotland should lead the way by scrapping all tolls. This would be a boost for tourism and business."

However, the executive said the implications of changing or removing tolls on other Scottish bridges were "more complicated" and required further consideration.


SEE ALSO:
Tolls abolished for Skye Bridge
21 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Bridge charge deal seems nearer
08 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Motorists attack bridge toll rise
07 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Skye Bridge tolls to be abolished
03 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Bridge protesters renewing fight
03 May 04 |  Scotland


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