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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Minister's pledge on bridge tolls
Tay Road Bridge (picture by Undiscovered Scotland)
The Tay Road Bridge has outstanding debts of 13.3m
Transport Minister Tavish Scott has promised to look again at tolls on the Tay and Forth road bridges.

The Scottish National Party led calls for them to be scrapped following a similar move on the Erskine Bridge.

Opposition MSPs claimed the move was a crude attempt to delay the issue until after the next election.

Mr Scott told Holyrood that a one-size-fits-all policy for toll bridge charges was wrong and backed national road pricing across the UK.

He told MSPs that any policy change must be based on facts.

What was the purpose of the tolls review if we are now to have another review?
Shona Robison
Dundee East MSP

"We will take forward a full economic analysis of the impact tolls and congestion have on local people, business and the wider Scottish economy," he said.

Mr Scott said the Tay Road Bridge had outstanding debts of 13.3m and argued that dropping the tolls could increase traffic by 10,000 cars and lorries a day by 2011.

"If a bridge hasn't been paid for, that is justification to retaining tolls, unless there are significant factors," said the minister.

Dundee East MSP Shona Robison said the Scottish Executive should decide on the issue now and branded the review a "crude attempt to kick the issue into the long grass" until after next year's Holyrood elections.

Causing congestion

She said temporary suspension of the Tay tolls during Tuesday's strike action had allowed a free flow of traffic and asked: "What was the purpose of the tolls review if we are now to have another review?"

Ms Robison claimed the arguments for keeping charges on the Tay Bridge were deeply flawed, adding: "The only consistent thing about them is their inconsistency".

Tory Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said the proposal for another review was a political fix and that the east of Scotland was being left out in the cold.

"The minister said the tolls should be removed on the Erskine Bridge to cut congestion, yet we know that the Tay Bridge tolls actually cause congestion in Dundee city centre because of the existence of the booths on the north side of the bridge," he said.

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