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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 15:29 GMT
Reaction to road toll 'no' vote
A scene of congestion in the centre of Edinburgh
A scene of congestion in the centre of Edinburgh
Politicians and campaign groups have given their reaction to the result of a vote on the introduction of congestion charging in Edinburgh.

More than 74% of about 290,000 residents rejected the plan first proposed by Edinburgh City Council.

Proposals included a 2 a day charge to enter the congestion zone with fines of 60 for those who did not pay.

Donald Anderson, leader of Edinburgh City Council, said the matter was now closed.

The people have given a very clear vote in this referendum, no one can argue with it and we certainly won't.

We will not be putting forward any further proposals on congestion charging, as far as we are concerned the matter is now closed.

We will work to improve public transport, we will work to improve our city and we will work with the people of Edinburgh to make things better for everybody.

Councillor Andrew Burns, executive member for transport on Edinburgh Council, said other options need to be looked at.
It is personally a disappointment and I am surprised it has gone the way it has.

I would stress though that a full 25% - a quarter of the people in Edinburgh - backed the scheme, although I fully accept that three quarters have not.

We will have to focus our minds now on how to cope with growing congestion - which will happen - without any form of charging.

West Lothian Council leader Graeme Morrice was pleased with the result.
The people of Edinburgh have made it perfectly clear that they reject city road tolls.

The result shows that the City of Edinburgh Council got it wrong with the proposed two-cordon scheme.

We are now calling on the city council to accept the democratic view of the people of Edinburgh and to abandon this unfair congestion charging scheme.

A spokesman for the National Alliance Against Tolls said roads needed improving.
It is rare that any of the people of Britain have a chance to have a decisive say. Tolls are unwanted as has been shown in this poll.

The government should abandon its plans for more tolls and instead scrap existing tolls and spend more on improving roads.

Mark Ballard, Green Party MSP for the Lothians, wants greater transport investment.
This debate has shown that doing nothing about congestion is not an option.

It has highlighted the significant problems that Edinburgh Council faces in trying to provide quality public transport and reduce traffic congestion.

In addition to greater investment in public transport - we also need measures to persuade people out of their cars.

Professor David Begg, director at the Centre for Transport Policy at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said the future was challenging.
I think this has been a very worthwhile and productive exercise.

The challenge facing transport professionals, politicians, decision makers, generally is that the public still think there is an infrastructure solution to congestion - whether it's building a by-pass or a new road or improving public transport

However, the truth of the matter is while all that helps - particularly improving public transport - the growth in car use and traffic outstrips any city's ability to cater for increased travel.

Mark Sydenham, spokesman for campaign group Get Edinburgh Moving, was disappointed with the result.
We still think that this was a workable and practical scheme and are disappointed that it has been rejected.

Congestion charging would have been good for public transport users, good for public health, good for the environment, and good for the economy.

David Spaven, chair of TRANSform Scotland, was not surprised by the result.
It would have been astonishing for there to have been a 'yes' vote in this referendum given the deliberate campaign of misinformation carried out by the local media.

This calls into question how referenda can be held when the media has been as irresponsible and unbalanced as it has in Edinburgh.

Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said businesses would be pleased.
Whilst city centre retailers will be relieved that the threat of congestion charging no longer looms, there are many issues concerning the city centre that now need to be addressed.

It is critically important that Edinburgh City Council works with retailers and other partners in the city centre to find solutions to problems with parking, and to continue to make improvements to the shopping environment.

Scottish Transport Minister Nicol Stephen warned that Edinburgh's traffic problems would not go away.
Edinburgh will benefit with new trains, the airport rail link, and improved bus services.

The need to support this new investment with measures to reduce car use, especially at peak periods, will not disappear as a major transport issue.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, called on parties championing congestion charging at a national level to come up with a "workable scheme".
Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Greens all have support for congestion charging in their national policies.

The test is whether parties are prepared to do more than talk a good game.

Mike Rumney, chair of Fife Council's environment and development committee, hailed the outcome of the vote.
We aren't opposed to congestion charging in principle, but have always been opposed to Edinburgh's proposals on grounds of fairness.

Edinburgh councillors have to listen to their residents now because they haven't listened to anyone else so far.

Stephen Joseph, director of environmental group Transport 2000, said it was a victory for the pro-motoring lobby.
This is a set back for Edinburgh but does not mean the end of city centre congestion charging as an idea.

It does mean councils elsewhere will have to work harder to explain the benefits and allay the fears.

Lesley Sawers, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said common sense had prevailed.
We now must ensure that the real transport issues are tackled both in and between Scotland's two main cities, with the outstanding infrastructure questions answered, including rail links to both major airports and the various motorway and trunk road upgrades.

SNP transport spokesman Fergus Ewing welcomed the result.
The proposal by the Labour Council in Edinburgh was the wrong scheme at the wrong time and the wrong place.

The plan that has been rejected was ill thought out, but we now need to see a comprehensive proposal to tackle our capital city's traffic problem.

Ian Gibson, of Macmillan Cancer Relief, said he was pleased congestion charges would not be going ahead.

Patients receiving treatment for cancer could have been very badly affected financially by such a charge.

Macmillan is pleased that people with cancer will have one less extra cost to worry about at what is already an expensive and stressful time for all the family.

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie, MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands said he was delighted the people of Edinburgh voted no.
A clear message has been sent that the people of Scotland will not stand for tolls on top of the hefty taxes they are already paying.


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