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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 18:46 GMT
Legal challenge to capital tolls
Congestion zone
Edinburgh plans to follow London in introducing the measures
Three neighbouring councils have begun a legal challenge over plans for congestion charging in Edinburgh.

Fife, Midlothian and West Lothian councils have lodged a petition at the Court of Session calling for a judicial review on charging motorists.

They claim it is unfair some capital residents would be exempt from charges, while motorists in other councils would have to pay.

Edinburgh City Council said it would "robustly defend" the scheme.

A procedural hearing is scheduled to take place on Friday where a decision will be taken on whether or not the action can proceed.

Edinburgh's proposals as they stand are blatantly unfair
Adam Montgomery
Midlothian Council
Residents in the capital are to be given the opportunity via a referendum in February to state their views on the scheme.

The council wants two cordons, one inside the capital's ring road, the other round the city centre.

A 2 charge would apply from 0700 - 1830 at the inner cordon and 0700 - 1000 at the outer boundary on weekdays.

London introduced a 5-a-day charge for entering a central zone in February 2003.

Papers lodged

West Lothian Council deputy leader Willie Dunn said: "We have lodged the papers today and hopefully we will get a date for a hearing soon.

"What we are hoping is to overturn the decision made by Edinburgh City Council to go ahead with the exemptions in place.

"All the councils together feel Edinburgh Council has taken a decision which is unjust and illegal because it is contrary to legislation regarding congestion charging and also contrary to the inquiry reporters' advise."

Cars going past John Lewis in Edinburgh
Drivers passing John Lewis in Edinburgh may have to pay up

Fife Council's Mike Rumney said: "Edinburgh has ignored its neighbours in favour of its own residents for too long now and they have left us with no other option.

"Their proposals are unjust and illegal."

The three councils have also challenged the ability of the scheme to allow funds to be shared with surrounding authorities.

Mr Rumney added: "There are no legal mechanisms in place for City of Edinburgh Council to distribute revenue to other local authorities.

"There appears to be no legitimate way to share funds under the existing scheme. In fact, legislation would have to be changed for this to happen."

The petition says that Edinburgh has flouted the recommendations of a public inquiry report released last October, which stated the council should abandon plans to not charge Edinburgh residents living outside the outer cordon.

Midlothian Council leader Adam Montgomery said: "Edinburgh's proposals as they stand are blatantly unfair.

"Despite strong advice by the City of Edinburgh Council's own advisers, as well as the inquiry reporters to remove this anomaly, it has chosen to ignore that and proceed with its flawed scheme to a referendum."

'Entirely confident'

However, Edinburgh City Council's Andrew Burns said: "We remain entirely confident of the strength of the case behind Edinburgh's current transport strategy, which will go to a public referendum in Edinburgh in February.

"If a public or private body does at any time pursue legal action, we will confidently and robustly defend the current scheme."

A spokesman for the National Alliance Against Tolls said: "We welcome the legal challenge by the three councils.

"The residents of the three councils will in effect have to pay a border tax when they drive into Edinburgh, but they will not have a vote in the Toll Poll."

Meanwhile, Edinburgh residents are being reminded they have until next Friday to ensure they are registered for the congestion charge referendum.

Residents who opted out of the full electoral register to avoid marketing material will miss out on the chance to vote.

About 300,000 leaflets have been distributed in the city and forms are available from the council and on its internet site.

Road toll plan given green light
18 Oct 04 |  Scotland
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06 Jul 04 |  Scotland
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21 Apr 04 |  Scotland
Council defends road tolls
15 Jan 04 |  Scotland
Plan to ban cars gets green light
12 Aug 03 |  Scotland

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