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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Are Fife tolls a bridge too far?
In this week's reader's article, retired policeman Bill Hunter, 54, from Glenrothes, calls for politicians to stand up for their Fife constituents against the Forth Road Bridge tolls.

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If you are a Fifer you have to be a tad miffed by the shenanigans that took place in the Scottish Parliament last week, before all the MSPs trotted off on their extended Easter break.


Fife, in case you didn't know, is the only county in the land where drivers have to pay bridge tolls to gain entry at both ends - Tay Bridge in the north, Forth Bridge in the south.

The arguments to retain the tolls are allegedly environmental and financial. The environmental argument will never be won between a conservationist and a pragmatist.

The financial argument is where we Fifers start to get a bit tetchy.

Tolls on the Erskine Bridge in the west of Scotland (Labour area) were removed recently - but then the finance raised to build the bridge is paid off. So too with the Forth Bridge.

Congestion claim

Tolls on the Skye Bridge (also in the west of Scotland - Lib Dem area) were removed some time ago - hardly any of the finance of the build was recouped.

The Tay Bridge still has a bit to pay back but has been paying its way for many years now.

The transport minister tried to argue that removing the tolls at the Tay Bridge would cause congestion in Dundee city centre at peak hours. The man obviously had never been to Dundee because it is the tolls that cause the problem.

During the recent Unison strike, with no toll collectors, traffic ran freely.

toll booths
Tolls remaining on the Forth Road Bridge has caused controversy

The time to stand up and be counted came last week in parliament when MSPs had the opportunity to vote in an SNP motion to remove the tolls at a stroke - but for Labour and the Lib Dems this would mean voting against their alliance controlled government.

Had those Labour and Lib Dem MSPs from Fife and Central Scotland grasped the nettle and voted the way they said they would - we would be free of tolls.

Seems it was more important for these political lackeys to toe the line to their political masters than to represent the people they serve.

I've got an idea. Why not hand the building back to Scottish & Newcastle Brewery - the original owners of the site. It was built on the cheap anyway and it's obviously falling to bits.

Maybe they could organise a parliament in a brewery!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not endorsed by the BBC.


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