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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Call to axe lifeline ferry fares
calmac ferry
Councillor MacSween called for ferry fares to be scrapped
A senior councillor in the Western Isles has called on the first minister to extend his plan to scrap bridge tolls to cover lifeline ferry services.

Last week, Alex Salmond set out plans to scrap tolls on the Tay and Forth road bridges.

Councillor Donald John MacSween, vice-chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's transportation committee, called on him to scrap ferry fares as well.

He said removing "the biggest toll of all" would boost the islands economy.

The SNP, which has branded the bridge tolls "unacceptable and unfair", promised to introduce a bill to abolish them within 100 days of taking office at Holyrood.

Mr Salmond set out his plans in a statement to the Scottish Parliament.

However, his minority administration will need to gain the support of other parties to get the proposals through.

This would be the biggest boost ever to the economy of the Western Isles and would easily repay the costs within a short time
Donald John MacSween

Mr MacSween said: "Ferry fares penalise those who live in island communities.

"The first minister is to be commended for announcing the removal of charges on those who use the Tay and Forth bridges and it makes sense to extend that wisdom to the removal of ferry fares.

"This would be the biggest boost ever to the economy of the Western Isles and would easily repay the costs within a short time."

The timescale for scrapping the bridge tolls is expected to be set out shortly.

The previous Scottish Executive scrapped tolls on the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde, saying the move would ease congestion on river crossings in nearby Glasgow.

That executive also abolished the controversial Skye Bridge charges, after buying it back from its private owners for 27m.


SEE ALSO
Salmond plans to end bridge tolls
23 May 07 |  Scotland
Party moves to scrap bridge tolls
30 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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