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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February 2005, 15:29 GMT
Congestion charging: Your views
A referendum in Edinburgh has rejected the idea of introducing congestion charging.

The council in Scotland's capital had proposed the plan in an attempt to halt the growing traffic problem in the city.

About 300,000 residents were asked if they were in favour of cordons, similar to those in London and what is under consideration in Bristol.

We asked for your views.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

To all the car users who say they pay too much tax, have you considered the cost of the following? The effect your driving has on the rest of the traffic (for every minute you drive on a congested road, you are adding an average of four minutes travel time to the other traffic). The amount of pollution you cause and potential effects in global warming; The increased risk of accidents and fatalities your driving causes. I can safely tell you, as any empirical studies will too, that the cost of these far exceed your taxes, even with an extra 2 charge.
Drummond Gilbert, Edinburgh

Apparently I need to start working on Edinburgh Council because according to people who live in Edinburgh they all make millions from all the council tax and parking charges for their own pockets. Lucky for me that I don't own a bus or tram company because apparently they come for free.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK

It's a shame that good, viable ways to reduce congestion, raise much needed cash for public transport and help the environment by reducing emissions are accused of being a cash cow or tax ploy. We are all too stuck up to realise that the private car is one of the worst environmental and unhealthy ways of travel. And it's a shame to be in this country where rail users have to pay almost all of the cost of the system when private car users ride on the back of everyone's taxes to cover their expensive road building costs. I hope that Oxford introduces congestion charging and does not follow the un-progressive ideas of Edinburgh's people have chosen.
John, Oxford, Uk

Congratulations to Edinburgh on allowing true democracy to drive its decision making. Can we please have more referendums before councils or governments are allowed to steal more of our money for their grandiose projects?
Ian, Miadstone, England

Thank you people of Edinburgh - you have made my day! Some of us have no choice but to use a car to gain access to the services the City provides. Public Transport? What a joke. We don't even have a train line in the whole Borders region! Wonderful result - common sense prevails!!
Mari, Borders, Scotland

The 9,000,000 should have been invested in public transport not wasted on this referendum - I'm glad that the scheme has been rejected! I think that the proposed tram system should be replaced with an underground system - trams are slow and expensive, if people are not using buses enough then why would they use trams! We should vote for a fast underground system like London!
Nadia, Edinburgh

Stop the "school run", get children to go to school on the best bus service in Scotland. Edinburgh will then find that there is no congestion problem just as there isn't during the school holidays
Graham Millar, Fife

Even though I don't own a car, I still voted against the charge. Maybe now the council will have to rethink their crazy tram scheme.
Lucy, Edinburgh

Well done, what a stupid plan that was but to be honest I'm quite amazed the council isn't implementing it anyway even though it's against public opinion, now why couldn't more people have voted the same for the smoking ban? Anyway respect to everyone who voted against it saves me having to pay 2 to get into granton or a 2hr bus journey from penicuik, if public transport is so good how come it takes 4 times as long as a car!
Ross, Edinburgh

Great news. I work just inside the outer cordon and would have resented having to pay each day to get to my place of work. The issue must now be to improve the existing public transport system.
Michael Berkeley, West Lothian

Now we should campaign to get rid of Bus lanes and parking charges.
Al Wilson, Edinburgh

It is traffic management that is the problem in Edinburgh. Rather than closing or narrowing roads, the traffic lights, etc. need to be adaptive to the traffic flow. I often see traffic jams building up waiting to get out of the city, while the traffic lights for the few cars travelling into town are at green for a long time. Major roadworks and road closures don't help the situation either.
Hugh, Edinburgh

The problem is not congestion charging - but lack of planning from Edinburgh council - they say they want less congestion - yet give the go ahead to massive retail Parks - Fort kninaird for one - with no thought to transport and affect on local residents. They now tell us gleefully that they are going to build virtually a small town - 80 thousand odd homes -(bigger than falkirk!) in Granton is this their integrated transport policy? Lets bring in more people and more cars? Great result! Why should the hard working population be asked to pay again and again to dig the council out of the mess they got themselves into in the first place by spending money that should have been spent on public transport and roads on other projects. Car Tax should be spent on roads. The sooner councils realise they are there to serve the people and not the other way around the better.
Alan Murray, Dunfermline, Fife

Note to Ken - good job you didn't need a referendum to tax us in London, wasn't it?
Steve, London

Delighted to see that the silly scaremongering put about by the 'Yes' camp in support of their proposed 'another sneaky Labour tax' has been so decisively rejected.
Euan, Edinburgh, Uk

Great Result. All you green people from outside Edinburgh concerned about the health of children should get your facts right before you put your comments down. The proposed scheme would have created rat runs between the inner and outer cordon. Where do you think the majority of the cities schools are located! Not very helpful if you live in these areas and have health problems. Also are you aware that certain areas outside the outer cordon were excluded purely to buy votes in any upcoming elections. But the main reason for a no vote is that there is no alternative and even with the tolls there would still be no alternative for a large number of people
Brian, Edinburgh

I'm disappointed in the No vote. I absolutely disagree that public transport in Edinburgh is poor, and only think it a shame that more people don't use it as it stands, instead choosing to sit, all too often alone, in their cars in rubber-necked traffic queues. Rejecting the charge and baying for Council resignations is not going to solve our long-term problems with congestion and air pollution for future generations - we were given a chance to take a step in the right direction and now we have taken 3 steps back.
C Hood, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh councillors seem to be forgetting that the majority of people who drive into Edinburgh do so because they live outside Edinburgh and have to come in to work. Edinburgh should be using the income from business rates to significantly improve public transport at peak times from all major centres within a 50 mile radius. I used to travel by train daily from Fife and the services were few, unreliable and overcrowded. There has been no improvement in any train services as far as I can see over the past few years. In fact since I moved to my present address, some trains no longer stop at my local station. The train companies are unwilling to improve services at local stations and seem only to be interested in city-to-city journey times. Edinburgh councillors deliberately disenfranchised the majority of those who have no other choice but to use their cars - commuters who live outside the city but whose employers create wealth for the city.
Ken, Cupar, Fife

While I accept that people prefer to see public transport improvements before they have to pay for them, where exactly do they expect the money to come from? It's time people realised that the amount of money they spend on their road tax, as expensive as it seems, is no longer enough to buy our way out of the problems that mass private car use causes - especially in a city originally designed for horse and carriage. When people consider the bigger picture outside of their own pocket, democracy might stand a chance of improving our lives rather than always maintaining a socially and environmentally irresponsible out-dated status quo.
Carl Messenger, Edinburgh, UK

Well done the people of Edinburgh! You have held us (the city) back in the 20th Century! More jams, more car-parks, more fumes, more subsidising of the motorist in terms of cost to the planet. When can we move on to the 21st Century?
Ed Hawkins, Edinburgh, Uk

I wonder whether the council will pull Ken Livingstone's trick out of the bag and deliberately make congestion much worse by re-phasing lights, filling in bus pull-ins (so they act as mobile roadblocks) etc. Then when congestion is engineered to be much worse than now the same scheme pops up, supported by another 10,000,000 budget and the cycle continues. Naturally as soon as the people vote Yes everything returns to before, providing an immediate reduction in congestion. Cynical, yes, but having seen it in London it's bound to happen again.

While I am pleased that congestion charging was defeated I hope that this does not suggest to Edinburgh Council that people are willing to settle for more of the same. What we had was politicians attempting to pass the bill of failing to provide good public transportation onto the public. This no vote was putting the blame back on the Council for Edinburgh's traffic problems where it belongs. Let us hope that the Council gets the message and gets their act together.
Sean Schneider, Edinburgh, Uk

As someone who lives between the two cordons this is good news on one hand, bad on the other. Good news that if my wife wants to travel to any of the city outskirts shopping malls the council agreed to she won't have to choose between paying to cross into a cordon she had to cross out of to get onto the city bypass or travelling through the city thereby increasing congestion; bad news as my bus will still get stuck in the traffic and the trip to work will still take 1 hour.
Robert, Edinburgh

Victory for common sense. I travel fairly regularly from East Lothian into Edinburgh, and the journey normally takes about 45 minutes for 25 miles. The only congestion recently has been created by the Council by seemingly unnecessary roadworks which all started (coincidentally?) about two weeks ago. Odd congestion at rush hours, yes, but it's short-lived.
Robert Benson, East Linton

Edinburgh has a serious traffic congestion problem at peak hours. I don't see why people are so opposed to paying an extra 2 per day that they would normally spend on lunch or magazines. If road tax went up by the same amount pro rata, no one would care! Edinburgh is a very old city with little spare road space. I await with interest to hear another suggestion promoted by those who are against the plan.
Martin, Kirkcaldy, Fife

This was a poorly thought out idea for the start. It would just push traffic into the suburbs.
Allan Hamer, Edinburgh

Now that this issue has been resolved appropriately I think our council should now bring in transport experts to unblock all the congestion previously built in by the greenways, bell ending street pavements at junctions and consider double yellow lining all bus stops to ensure they can pull in to let traffic pass. Well done the citizens of Edinburgh.
D. Gillespie,

So the scheme will not go ahead but the council intends to invest in public transport - meaning that Edinburgh will end up paying anyway. But be clear about one thing, the cost of continued congestion (pollution, noise and wasted time) is greater than the cost of schemes to relieve congestion. I leave the 'no voters' and council tax payers to ponder this equation...
Gwyn, Uk

Ridiculous outcome. Vital chance to improve the public transport infrastructure has been lost. not sure the council did the best job of promoting.
neill knox, edinburgh

I'm glad that there will be no charges because it would have been mainly people outside Edinburgh, like myself paying most of the money and not seeing anything in return for it.
Billy Armstrong, Airdrie, Scotland

Shouldn't Edinburgh develop affordable & effective public transport to the towns that supply it with it's workforce before introducing a congestion charge? How about a bus link between the Gyle & the outside world for a start.
Bob, Stirling

Had to laugh at the comment that we'll regret this decision in 10 years time when we have a '3rd class' public transport system in Edinburgh. '3rd class' would be a significant improvement on what we have at the moment! That's why the road tolls were so overwhelmingly rejected - you need to have good public transport first, then people will vote for congestion charging. The Council deserved to lose. They fought a dishonest and biased campaign, and people refused to fall for it. Well done to the people of Edinburgh for seeing through the spin.
Brian Cooper, edinburgh

Put in a simple, tight, chargeable cordon with better train and bus services and there'll be support. This Edinburgh scheme was too complicated (and politically compromised) and only offered a vaguely better future sometime. A good vote by the people.
Al, W'Ton, Uk

Well done the people of Edinburgh for voting down the congestion charging. Now we can look forward to a future of increasingly clogged streets and more and more pollution. But at least people can stay in their beloved cars and won't have to pay 2. So much for an enlightened electorate. long live self interest.
Steven, Edinburgh

So people won't be happy until we're all having to wear masks due to the thick fog of exhaust fumes. As long as I can transport my sad lazy carcass when I want where I want I couldn't give a damn about anybody else. As long as we continue to use transport which runs on fossil fuels, the earth will heat up. I can't quite believe that people are still so selfish.
Anon, Uk

Well done Edinburgh. We need a solution to congestion but this was not it. The nations' employees work far too many hours at present and if this had gone through then the working day would have stretched even further to avoid paying the charge. Edinburgh council should be ashamed of themselves at their attempt to deal with traffic congestion over the last 10 years. There have been no serious alternatives developed to encourage drivers to leave the car at home and their reaction is once again to penalise the hand that feeds them. Give the people serious and realistic alternatives.
Keith, Inverness

Excellent news. This was a simple revenue-raising dodge from a council which presumably wanted to continue to crow about its "low" level of Council tax. No evidence whatsoever has been led to show that charges would reduce congestion/pollution (a good proportion of which is caused by buses and taxis in any event) - and indeed, it would have been in the interests of the Council to keep as many cars as possible coming into town to boost revenues...
Euan, Edinburgh

This was the correct result for this proposed scheme. The council have squandered a great opportunity to better this fine city. A very poorly managed project dogged by controversial (and quite unfair) exemptions for some edinburgh council tax payers, legal challenges from neighbouring councils and negative press. With a 3-1 vote against, this project should have been stopped dead in its tracks a long time ago.
Rob, Leith, Edinburgh

I run a business in and around Edinburgh, Fife and the Central belt. Congestion charges would have resulted in significantly increased costs to us with the necessary movements in and out of the cordons. I am delighted this poorly developed plan has been rejected. I would be prepared to support more use of public transport if the facilities were in place, but at present, private (and company) vehicles are the only sensible way to get around the Edinburgh area.
George Houston, Cupar, Fife

The council got exactly what they deserved. They planned on using revenues generated from the congestion charges to eventually improve Edinburgh's sub-standard public transport network, but surely if the congestion scheme had worked, these revenues would be very low, as we'd all have left our cars at home and be queueing for the bus! An ill conceived plan that was always doomed to fail.
Stuart, Edinburgh, Scotland

If the council are determined to reduce congestion, let's subsidise bus fares and make all fares a flat rate of 50p no fare stages. Ken livingston tried a similar exercise in London with the GLC and the underground which apparently worked. Stop road narrowing schemes as all they do is restrict the road space cyclists need.
Douglas, Edinburgh

I think some of the subscribers to your forum are very selfish. As to public transport being expensive, Edinburgh, I believe has some of the cheapest fares in the UK, where else could one travel from one side of a city to the other for 1. I think the no voters will live to regret the vote made by them
John W, Edinburgh

Edinburgh council should now resign en masse for wasting 9 million of taxpayers' money on a fundamentally flawed scheme. They should concentrate on getting traffic moving again instead of doing everything in their power to create congestion and increase pollution by slowing down essential traffic. Well done to the voters of Edinburgh.
David Johnstone, Bonnyrigg, Scotland

Now how about the abolition of road tolls on the forth bridge?...
Paul Christie, Dunfermline

I think its a real shame that the outcome has been 'no'. Society needs to have the courage and foresight to make changes that favour the environment, instead of choosing personal convenience and the avoidance of debateable drawbacks. No scheme is perfect, but this must have been better than the current situation.
Jeff Hancox, Inverness, Scotland

I am glad the correct decision was made by the people of Edinburgh. It was crazy to have 2 zones as the congestion would simply be moved around the city if a yes vote happened. I would think a yes vote would have come about if the council decided on one cordon at say the bypass. This would have meant that those living outside the city that create a large amount of the congestion would have to pay not those that already pay to live in the city with higher house prices and higher council tax.
Paul, Edinburgh

Well lets face it a Referendum asking for residents to vote to pay money was never going to work. Now I use Edinburgh's public transport and still voted against the toll, why? because of the outer toll. If the toll had been an inner cordon only I and hopefully a lot of people would have voted yes, but get real if you think a toll round the entire city is a clever move. Edinburgh might have well built a Moat. And to all those people now blaming the No supporters, the Yes campaign would have been well advised to either use the Toll for reducing congestion OR raising money as these aims are mutually exclusive.
Peter H, Edinburgh

My thoughts are how did 45,000 residents get duped into believing that this council had nothing in their heads other than raising money.
Iain Mailer, Greenlaw

Great. Much heavier congestion makes my cycle to work far easier as all the cars are at a standstill! Building the new tram lines will cause some fantastic jams too. Hope the road lobby is happy.
stuart barlow, Edinburgh

Maybe now the council will reorganise the roads in Edinburgh following the rejection of another money spinning ruse. Congestion in the main part is caused by poor organisation of one way systems speed humps chicanes etc. The council should look to better integrated transport and better use of out of town parking such as the big supermarkets - What about town bound shuttle services from the Gyle, Crewe Toll, Cameron Toll, Fort Kinnard etc.
Alan Jemmett, East Lothian

A classic display of political cowardice. There was no way a "Yes" vote was ever going to prevail. Do you think London would have voted "Yes" if they had been offered a referendum initially? Scared of losing votes the elected council have abdicated political responsibility. They should have tried the congestion scheme for a year THEN offered a referendum. Their lamentable half-hearted attempt to introduce cycle lanes to Edinburgh (they are nothing more than death traps), is another example of the Council lacking the guts and political vision to implement radical policies. Edinburgh city centre provides one of the most stunning natural amphitheatres of any world city, but it will continue to be an uncomfortable congested area full of fumes and burger bars. Well done Edinburgh Council...
jim park, edinburgh

The state of the roads in Edinburgh is a joke as it is - the council can't be trusted to even manage what they have control of at the moment without being given more powers. It's no surprise that people rejected the bid - despite the council trying their best by making the voting system unduly complicated, wasting OUR money putting "yes" posters up everywhere, and the curious and completely coincidental high amount of roadworks that coincided with the vote. They forgot one thing: the roads are ours, we pay for them - they should remember that when it comes to the next local election - and i hope the people of Edinburgh look carefully to see what Councillors actually took note of what their constituents actually wanted.
Dave, Edinburgh

It's reassuring to see that given a choice so many people have voted against this. It seems to be nothing less than another crude attempt at back-door taxation by Edinburgh City Council. First the residents' parking permit fiasco and then they had the affront to propose this. I wonder how much of our council taxes were sucked up by the cost of this misguided campaign. The biggest frustration is that they'll either try again in another year or two or just impose it on us anyway. Then they have the nerve to wonder why there's voter apathy.
Nick, Edinburgh

I think that a significant number of residents would have voted yes to the "principle" of congestion charging, but were not given the option to do so.... the doughnut was always the wrong approach....
Gill, Edinburgh, Scotland

I'm glad that these ill-conceived plans have been voted out. If I was an Edinburgh resident I would want answers on the 9m wasted. Edinburgh Council should concentrate on the appalling state of the roads first. We already pay a vast amount of taxation by owning a car and public transport improvements should come from the money we spend using it. The proposed charge would have benefited those people who commute by car within the city and penalised those people who suffer from poor public transport from areas outwith the city of Edinburgh (i.e. Borders, areas of West Lothian and some areas of Fife (who already pay the bridge toll and suffer congestion crossing it before getting near the city).
Peter Chalmers, Kirkcaldy, Fife

This just goes to show how easy it is to mislead people - the local paper has led a campaign of propaganda against the charges based on lies and distortion. All the same arguments were played out in London yet no harm has been done. 42% of people don't even have access to a car in Edinburgh yet it seems a large proportion of them have been misled by this shameful campaign.
David Harrington, Edinburgh, Scotland

Thank goodness the citizens of Edinburgh have seen sense! We pay the 2nd highest council tax in the UK and therefore the council should be able to pay for better public transport from this. Our grubby city is in dire need of investment instead of us funding the festivals and hogmanay parties. If you visit Kensington and Chelsea in London you can see what a good council (incidentally Conservative) can do for an area - clean, safe, beautiful with flowers everywhere etc. Make sure those Labour councillors do not get re-elected and squander more of your hard earned money. How much did this farce of a road tolls vote cost? Too much probably.
Mhairi Munro, Edinburgh

I moved from Edinburgh to Fife, to escape the shambolic public transport system, and the congestion around the south gyle area. I travelled on the number 22 bus to get to work each morning, 5 minute journey ended up sometimes lasting 30 + minutes. I now travel on First Scotrail trains, and a 30 minutes journey can last all day. I cannot believe the idiotic idea to introduce congestion charges with the public transport the way it is, it's a disgrace. No wonder people drive in the city and surrounding areas with a shambolic public transport system. This is not just a problem in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the rest of the UK. The money wasted on idiotic schemes would have been better spent fixing the public transport they want to improve by introducing congestion charges. Local councils + Scottish Executive = muppets
Craig Ferguson, Cowdenbeath, Fife.

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