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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 13:41 GMT
Way cleared for toll challenge
Restricted zone in London
Edinburgh plans to follow London in introducing the measures
Local authorities opposed to congestion charging in Edinburgh have been granted a legal hearing in their bid to prevent a referendum planned for next month.

The Court of Session has accepted a petition from Fife, Midlothian and West Lothian councils and their case could be heard next week.

Residents in the capital are due to be polled on the road toll plans in four weeks' time.

Edinburgh City Council said it would robustly defend its position in court.

Andrew Bowen, counsel for Fife, West Lothian and Midlothian councils, said they were seeking a declaration that a decision taken by the Edinburgh authority to approve the scheme was outside its legal powers.

The legal action claims it is unfair some Edinburgh residents are exempt from the tolls despite living outside the charging boundary, while motorists in neighbouring councils - living just as close to the capital - will have to pay.

All the councils together feel Edinburgh council has taken a decision which is unjust and illegal
Willie Dunn
West Lothian Council

Edinburgh City Council wants to introduce a 2 charge to traffic passing through two designated zones.

It is estimated the charge would raise 760m over a 20-year period and that money would be used to fund transport improvements throughout the area.

But the three councils also challenge the ability of the scheme to allow funds to be shared with surrounding authorities.

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

Deputy leader of West Lothian Council Willie Dunn said: "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' advice."

Edinburgh is due to hold a referendum on the proposals next month. No date was set for a full hearing of the legal challenge against the plan at Friday's hearing.

Legal challenge to capital tolls
06 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Road toll plan given green light
18 Oct 04 |  Scotland
McConnell impressed by road tolls
06 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Retailer's fear on congestion fee
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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