National Alliance Against Tolls - Edinburgh News to May 2005

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EDINBURGH NEWS
This is Edinburgh News up to May 2005, for later news go to:- Scotland News 2005 page.
There are various news items below going back to August 2004, they are mainly from The Scotsman group, a few other papers and the BBC.
You can see ALL the stories published by The Scotsman group at:-   Scotsman Group - Road Tolls   To see the detail of those stories you will have to register (free) when prompted.


17 May 2005
Tolls inevitable?
Jennifer Veitch says that some form of tolls is inevitable in Edinburgh because of congestion:-   The Scotsman - "We need road solutions .. not a scapegoat"
The people of Edinburgh overwhelmingly rejected tolls for a variety of reasons. One of which was that many people believed that Edinburgh Council were responsible for the congestion because of negative action such as road closures, and a lack of sufficient positive action such as park and ride schemes.
No doubt some toll scheme could be dreamt up that was not quite as bad as the last one. But certain fundamental objections apply to all toll schemes, including that they are unfair to overtaxed roads users, are costly to set up and run, and they drive business away from the affected areas.


16 May 2005
More on Roads closing
Edward Black reports:- "The heart of the Scottish capital will be vehicle-free from today in one of the most significant changes to traffic management in the city for 40 years."   The Scotsman - "Council: Car ban will mean faster bus rides"
Any guesses whether this will reduce or increase congestion?


15 May 2005
Council Punishing Drivers?
From today Princes Street is permanently closed to cars and Murdo Macleod says "In some quarters it is being claimed that Edinburgh's drivers are being deliberately punished for voting "no" in the city's recent referendum on congestion charging."   Scotland on Sunday - "Traffic in capital set to get even worse"
Edinburgh Council seems to be skilled at road closures etc that cause congestion, but inactive when it comes to measures that would help such as park and ride schemes.


11 May 2005
Toll Boss stays
It was reported yesterday that Edinburgh's Transport boss would get the sack. But no:-   The Scotsman - "Mr Congestion Charge pays the penalty "    Evening News - "Road chief Burns moved aside "    The Scotsman - "Transport chief keeps job despite road-toll defeat"    Evening News - "Road toll mastermind keeps job"
When it was thought that he was going a Tory spokesman said "His successor should show some humility by listening to what the public are saying and stop the administration creating the problem of congestion it then tries to solve."
Despite the speculation, was it not more likely that Labour would be handing out medals for gallantry?
When it comes to the next council elections, the people of Edinburgh may remember the Council's spin campaign and all the wasted money and time.

20 April 2005
Shops fare badly at Easter
Gareth Edwards reports that Edinburgh shops did relatively badly at Easter. It is suggested that this may because some people think that there are Tolls!"   Evening News - "Toll doubts blamed as city misses out on Easter bonanza"
The problems of Edinburgh shops may not be due to a Tolls illusion. But it is possible that some people will have been put off visiting Edinburgh, because they have been misled into believing that Edinburgh has a massive and unique congestion and pollution problem. In reality, any congestion has mainly been caused by the council, who's anti car efforts have reduced road space.


18 April 2005
Anti Toll campaigners set up Edinburgh Traffic Forum
Tina Woolnough and other campaigners against the Edinburgh Toll have set up the "Edinburgh Traffic Forum". The founders of the forum are sceptical about "theory-based traffic management schemes of transport experts". The forum already has a lot of proposals for ways to ease traffic congestion:-"   Evening News - "Grassroots answer to transport mess"
The Forum invites anyone interested to their launch meeting on Thursday 21 April at 7.30pm, St Columba's Church Hall, Hillhouse Rd (A90), Blackhall EH4. Or you can E-mail:  Edinburgh Traffic Forum
They also plan to have a website at :-"   Edinburgh Traffic Forum


30 March 2005
Council seeks change to Poll rules
Edinburgh City Council is to suggest that the law should be changed so that the full electoral register can be used in any future polls such as the Edinburgh Toll Poll.
(Edinburgh's experts had advised that the Poll should be treated in the same way as junk mail, and therefore only the "edited" register was used, unless someone had specially applied to be included in the Toll Poll:-"   Evening News - "Reform needed after road tolls poll fiasco"
Let's hope that they are not planning for another Toll Poll! In any case, there were many other ways in which Edinburgh's handling of the Poll was seen by many people as undemocratic, we assume that they will not be doing anything about that.


24 March 2005
MPs worried that Edinburgh Toll Poll will stop Tolls all over Britain
The Transport Committee at Westminster today issued a report on Tolls. It is in favour of tolls and is concerned that Edinburgh's decisive rejection of Tolls will make it difficult to introduce more:-"   Evening News - "Edinburgh road toll vote may hit UK plans"


18 March 2005
Audit of Toll Poll
Audit Scotland are reported to be looking at the 8 million that was spent by Edinburgh council on its abortive Toll plans. (According to the report half of the wasted money will come from the Scottish Executive).
Tory leader David McLetchie said "The whole exercise was a waste of money because the council should have known from previous consultation exercises there was no public support for its proposals."   Evening News - "Watchdog to probe city's handling of road toll vote"


3 March 2005
Yes Posters
There have been complaints that some of the "Yes" posters have not been removed. They were put up illegally, but the council said they could stay up till Feb 22nd. The council appears to be unconcerned:-   Evening News - "Toll backers warned: take down 'Yes' signs"
Next time round the Tolls lobby won't have to bend the rules. They will not need to as they will bring tolls in without anyone having a say.


27 February 2005
"The battle is won, but war against cars will continue"
Jenny Hjul has a brilliant piece in today's Sunday Times:-   Sunday Times - "The battle is won, but war against cars will continue"
"... As Edinburgh is the only place to have gone through the process of voting on congestion charging .. its resounding defeat of the council's proposals should serve as an indication of public opinion on the subject, not just in Scotland but throughout Britain...
Edinburgh councillors conducted a sham consultation, ignoring criticism of their plans; they loaded the wording in their ballot papers; they used the ballot papers as "yes" propaganda; they allowed "yes" campaigners to get away with illegal flyposting; and they spent 9m of public money flogging their argument.
But they still lost. Voters don't like being pushed around... Motorists are not a minority, single-issue group. All but the most die-hard Greens either own or aspire to own a car. If politicians want to encourage behavioural change in motorists they must at least appear to be on our side some of the time. Until they do we will take refuge in our cars - and in the ballot box."

26 February 2005
Where do Lib Dems stand on Tolls?
At Lib Dem conference at Perth on Friday their leader Charles Kennedy appeared to be backing the principle of tolls. He is today criticised for "hypocrisy" by Labour:-   Evening News - "Kennedy slammed for 'hypocrisy' over tolls"


24 February 2005
Cars choking people
The pro Tolls people are still claiming that there is a big pollution problem and that it is due to cars:-   Evening News - "Fume threat which could choke roads"
We wondered yesterday whether the councillors who keep saying this have bothered to read the reports from their own officers. Well now we know that they havn't.

In tonight's Evening News there is also an opinion piece from Ian Swanson:-   Evening News - "Massive defeat sees road tolls hit dead end"
And some letters:-   Evening News - "Victory as toll policy falls flat"

"Pack up and go"
Jenny Hjul this morning:-   The Scotsman - "Masterminds of the road-tolls shambles should pack up and go"
"Those of us who were against the Edinburgh congestion charge should probably resist the temptation to gloat, restrain ourselves from giving council leaders a kicking when they're down and exercise a degree of compassion for the losers. On the other hand, it's not often such an opportunity presents itself!
Six years of planning and 9 million down the drain! Some 600,000 wasted on the council's "yes" propaganda!
Hundreds of thousands of man-hours squandered on administering the scheme, the campaign to try to force it on us, and the bid to rescue it from farce when it transpired that 40,000 were excluded from voting!
... Their camp followers say the "no" voters are misguided and selfish and deserve all that's coming to them - asphyxiation by car fumes, death by climate change, that sort of thing. But two-thirds of the people cannot be wrong.... we want a commitment from the Labour council that they will spend the millions we give them in taxes on improving our roads, our public-transport systems and our parking...."
Meanwhile a report in the Financial Times shows that the Toll campaigners will be back for another go. They think that if they tweak the details a bit they can persuade people to accept tolls. Does this mean more engineered congestion and more spin, but definitely no more ballots?   FT - "Serious reverse for congestion charge schemes"


23 February 2005
Toll Defeat
Yesterday's decision by the people of Edinburgh should have delivered a fatal blow to the monster of Tolls in Edinburgh and the rest of Britain.
But we fear that the alliance between the anti roads lobby (who want to use a stick to force people onto trams etc) and the politicians in power (who would love a new tax and an excuse to spend even less on roads) will not give up.

According to today's Guardian, an adviser to Alistair Darling has "bemoaned" Edinburgh's "fickle" voters and has: "lost faith in democracy."
We have all been warned, they will use every trick they can to get Tolls, though they won't risk the ballot box again.

The Yes campaign are saying that there was a "campaign of misinformation" against the Toll. This is strange as we thought that the Toll myths came from their side, we would be happy to answer any queries about the information on this site. We have of course stressed one side of the argument, but we have not presented opinions as "facts". And we didn't have access to the vast resources that the "Yes" campaign had. Edinburgh council obviously wanted a Yes vote, and the Yes campaign was supported by various organisations which are in part funded by the public authorities.
If the No campaign had had equal access to resources, then there would never have been a referendum, as the government spin machine would have realised that it stood no chance.

Amongst today's stories is a threat to ban cars from certain city centre streets because of Pollution. Perhaps the councillors should spare some time to read their own officers' Air Quality reports which show that cars are not the problem. Or have they read them and don't believe them? (We commend the officers and hope that they are not inhibited in the future from informing the public of the full and balanced facts.)

More reports on the result:-    The Scotsman - "What now for Edinburgh?"    The Scotsman - "After tolls vote, we need to find way ahead - fast"    The Scotsman - "How six years' planning came to nothing"    The Scotsman - "'No' vote brings congestion charge bid to grinding halt"    The Scotsman - "Tram lines secure but new bus lanes and cycle paths axed"    ABD - "Edinburgh Delivers Body Blow to Road Pricing"    Guardian - "Edinburgh says no to road toll"    Guardian - "Other cities 'years away from toll plans'"    Evening News - "Road tolls in city 'may play role in future'"    Evening News - "Street ban threat for cars that fail air-quality test"    Evening News - "A few regrets but most delighted by vote result"    Evening News - "No slow-down in drive to beat jams"

While all the attention was on the City of Edinburgh, West Lothian had their own Toll Poll, though Edinburgh City Council would have ignored the result. The West Lothian result was 47,195 Noes and 4,724 Yeses. That's 91% Noes. What we can't understand is why it wasn't 100%!


late on 22 February 2005
Toll Defeat
More reports:-    Evening News - "Morning of high tension at Chambers"    Evening News - "The casualties of road tolls war"    Evening News - "Right arguments but wrong result"    Evening News - "Critics hail 'a victory for common sense'"    Evening News - "Time is right to steer towards compromise"    Evening News - "Harsh lesson in the clout of car culture"


22 February 2005
No 133,678 to Yes 45,965!
Result of the Toll was announced at 11.15 AM. Turnout was 61.8%, a bit higher than the General Election. No is 74.4% and Yes 25.6%.

Reports on BBC:-   "Edinburgh rejects congestion plan"   "Reaction to road toll 'no' vote"

Views on BBC:-   "Congestion charging: Your views 1"   "Congestion charging: Your views 2"

Evening News - "Burns at a crossroads as public says no to charging"

Reports after the announcement from Brian Ferguson and Jennifer Veitch in the Evening News:-   "Bold move a faller at first cordon"   "Edinburgh says No"

Report before the announcement in this morning's Scotsman:-   "Referendum D-Day for road toll plans"


21 February 2005
Traffic Forum
Tina Woolnough from Edinburgh Community Groups Against the Community Charge has suggested the setting up of a forum with powers to tackle traffic issues. It would look at improving the city's public transport, cycle paths, pedestrian facilities, free buses for children, local traffic surveys and Walk to Work weeks.
The City Council say that "In fact, all of the things they propose are already happening and being promoted by the city council.":-   Evening News - "Tolls opponents map out Plan B for city transport"

London Congestion Charge Petition
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has launched a campaign against London's congestion charge with an online petition, which will be presented to London Mayor Ken Livingstone later this year:-   "FPB launches congestion charge petition"
The FPB Chief Executive says:- "Our research has shown the quite devastating impact the congestion charge is having on smaller business. Where big businesses like John Lewis and McDonalds can absorb a drop in profits with ease, smaller firms operating on far tighter profit margins cannot. The congestion charge is hurting FPB members and plans to increase the toll and extend the zone are deeply worrying. The FPB is determined to give hard working firms a voice - smaller businesses must not be ridden rough-shod over by the congestion charge."

Final Day of Voting
Yes campaigners are encourgaging those without cars to say "Yes" to Tolls. Report from Shan Ross:-   The Scotsman - "Final blitz by Yes camp targets the car-less voter"
Those who do not use cars at the moment will certainly avoid paying the Toll that they are being asked to vote for. The ideal tax is of course one that someone else pays! But no one will benefit from Tolls.
Most of the income will be wasted in the cost of collecting it, and cars and lorries will use less suitable roads to avoid the tolls. Those working in city centre shops, restaurants and tourist attractions may also be affected, as the city centre cordon will have a psychological impact as if "No Entry" signs had been placed around it.


20 February 2005
Say Yes to Tolls or risk cancer in babies
Yes campaigners now say that "Mothers will be horrified to learn that simply walking down a road such as Princes Street can put their unborn child at risk of cancer. This small act could unravel all the effort they might have put into eating healthily, not drinking alcohol or smoking and generally maintaining good health. If there is any one reason to vote yes in the congestion charge referendum, then this is it.":-   Sunday Herald - "Study reveals how unborn babies at risk of cancer from urban air pollution"

This latest Yes claim is based on a report just published as part of an ongoing research project, "The Mothers & Children Study in New York City," started in 1998. It is examining the health effects of exposure of pregnant women and babies to air pollutants from vehicle exhaust, the commercial burning of fuels, and tobacco smoking, as well as from residential use of pesticides and allergens. This latest report is based on tests on 60 women living in Manhattan, and indicated that there were more chromosome abnormalities in umblical cord blood where the level of air pollution was higher. The study has not yet been fully published and there is not yet any proven link between with cancer.
There are a wide variety of pollutants from a wide variety of sources. In general cars do not pollute as much as buses, lorries and taxis. Emissions from all sources are generally falling due to more efficient engines and better exhaust filters. The main air pollutant which is increasing is ground level ozone, and this is mainly a problem in rural areas.
The Yes campaigners particularly mention Princes Street. Edinburgh City Council mainly monitor 2 pollutants:- fine particles and nitrogen oxide. Page 3 of their Air Quality Summary report says that of the fine particles in Princes Street only 5% comes from cars, and of the nitrogen oxide only 9%.
And all tolls would do is encourage cars to travel down other roads to avoid the toll.
Tolls are indiscriminate, charging all vehicles the same no matter how much or how little pollution they cause. If the Yes campaign are concerned about pollution and are not just anti roads, then why don't they campaign for cleaner engines and cleaner exhausts, and possibly a tax system which was higher for those who caused the most pollution., bearing in mind that all forms of road transport only account for 25% of air pollution.


18 February 2005
Toll Poll Turnout higher than General Election?
Ben Borland in the Evening News reports that a "Bumper vote", higher than a General Election, is predicted in the Tolls Poll .
If correct this will prove that there are large numbers who are opposed to the Toll, and large numbers who either accept the "Yes" myths or on principle believe in charging road users more, even if there are no benefits.
What we will not know till Tuesday is whether the Yeses outnumber the Noes.

No campaign proposals "half-baked"
The main community group that has campaigned against the Toll is ECACC (Edinburgh Communities Against Congestion Charging). Assuming that the Toll is defeated, they have put forward suggestions on other ways that people can be encouraged to use their cars less. According to the report from Alastair Dalton a leading Toll campaigner "dismissed the plans as "half-baked" and said many of the measures were already being pursued by the city council.":-   The Scotsman - "Let's go green - whatever the vote"
We are puzzled why measures which are ridiculed as "half-baked" are already being pursued by the council.

Tonight's Evening News has an opinion piece from Brian Monteith. He concludes:- "Don't hold back from voting no to the toll tax from some pangs of guilt that you are being selfish. It's the conceit and arrogance of the toll tax proponents that must be exposed to embarrassment if we are to make real progress in our lovely city.

London 2 years old
Alastair Dalton reports in this morning's Scotsman that yesterday (the 2nd anniversary of the London charge) a Yes campaigner said that the No campaign would be proved wrong "with congestion down by 30 per cent and a 60 per cent reduction in disruption to buses".
We are disappointed that the Yes campaign believe the London myths. The 30% reduction in "congestion" is a magical figure (see  paragraphs 3 to 6 ) and Transport for London say that most people in Inner London think that travelling times have deteriorated since the charge was created. As for buses, we suggest that the Yes campaign look at the story that was in the London Evening Standard only a week ago about Oxford Street being "heavily congested" with buses:-   "Mayor: Oxford Street is in decline"


17 February 2005
Beat the Clock
An Evening News reader from Penicuik writes:- "Nobody seems to have realised that at around 9:50am every morning everyone will be driving round the city bypass at around 10mph to ensure that they do not enter the outer cordon before 10am. Alternatively people will be driving round and round the Gogar roundabout until 10:00am. How much congestion is that going to cause?
At 6:45am the opposite will happen and numerous vehicles will be speeding along the bypass attempting to cross the outer cordon before 7:00am....This will be the real consequences of a "Yes" vote. Make sure you use your vote wisely and vote NO!"


London Today
Norfolk Eastern Daily Press reports on a local driver, who is being fined for paying the London "Congestion" charge, though he says it can't be his car:-   "Driver takes stand over London fine"
Ken Livingstone wants to increase charge from 5 to 8, but a Lib Dem member of Greater London Assembly thinks it may go higher. She also queries the reason given for the increase - to reduce traffic by 21%. Apparently (as also reported in the London Evening Standard) traffic has already fallen by this amount:-   Hampstead and Highgate Express - "Will slippery Ken wriggle his way out of his latest blunder?"
In our view, neither Ken nor his critics have got it right. They both believe the myths.
There has been a substantial reduction in the number of cars entering the Congestion Zone. But for various reasons, that has had hardly any effect on congestion within the zone, and even TfL say that most people in Inner London think that travelling times have increased.


Democracy - London style
Chris Mooney reports that one of the London Congestion Charge experts says that Edinburgh made a mistake in letting people have a vote before Tolls were introduced:-   Evening News - "London tolls chief attacks capital's 'rush job'"
Presumably, given enough time, the hope is that more people will fall for the London myths.

Also in the Evening News, Stephen Jardine in an opinion piece - "Where streets have no shame" comments on the scarcity of workmen at the excavation taking place at the east end of Princes Street. He says "The result is terrible traffic congestion at a time when Edinburgh City Council is holding a referendum on the subject. Could this be a mere coincidence? Answers on a postcard with a copy of your birth certificate inside a blue envelope marked C, but not on Tuesdays."

Democracy - Swedish style
Alastair Dalton reports in the Scotsman that the visiting Swedes have said that Edinburgh is "brave" to have a referendum before introducing the Congestion Charge. Stockholm is to introduce Tolls even though 60% of the population are opposed. They will have a vote AFTER the tolls are in place.
Edinburgh City council has said elsewhere that it felt that it had no choice under Scottish law, but to have a referendum.

Vote "Yes" or No Sweeties
Another report from Alastair Dalton says that if Edinburgh people do not say Yes to tolls, then they will not get a third tram line, and will miss out on all sorts of other Transport goodies.


16 February 2005
Use of Council facilities
A council investigation has ruled that a councillor backing the Yes camp "did not break any regulations or guidelines on the use of council facilities":-   Evening News - "Child newsletter 'questionable' but legal"

More on Effect on Shops
There is yet another survey predicting that Tolls will hit Edinburgh shops:-   The Scotsman - "Road tolls 'will speed up retail decline'"
The report from Alastair Dalton says that survey found"charging would pose a psychological barrier for many shoppers, who would dismiss offers to reclaim tolls against parking charges as an "additional hassle". In our view the psychological effect could be wider than this, as it would put people off, even in the hours when there would be no charges, and it would deter some car borne tourists from visiting Edinburgh.
The report also says that just under 40% of those registered have submitted their vote. This seems to indicate that the final turnout will be about 60%. So far there have been 1,800 calls to the helpline. Given the use of the edited register and the confusing forms, we would have expected more calls than this, so it may be a sign that many people are just not bothering.


15 February 2005
No New News
There is little that is new today. Reports of the various surveys showing how shops may be harmed are in the "news". But we have reported them before.

We also have reported claim that Edinburgh must bring in Tolls otherwise the climate will be adversely affected:-   The Scotsman - "Temperature is rising over climate change"   (For our response to this see:- Toll & the Air  (paragraphs 26 to 29)
One fresh item is:-
Westminster City Council have carried out a survey of their residents, to see if they support the extension of the London charging zone - "more than half of respondents believed the impact of the extension would be negative". (Report in today's Financial Times.)
(The Council area includes both a large chunk of the existing zone, and the area into which Ken Livingstone wants to extend it.) This rejection is despite the carrot that residents within an extended zone, would then get a 90% discount off what they pay to enter the existing charging zone.


14 February 2005
Accidents
The Evening News reports that the Yes camp are "defiant" in the face of the latest opinion poll and are using a statement just released by an insurance company.
The company claim that they have carried out research showing that the London "Congestion" Charge has resulted in fewer accidents and they want similar schemes all over Britain:-   The Scotsman - "City chiefs defiant over tolls poll blow"
Transport for London recently issued their latest report on the charge. In the year after the charge was introduced, reported personal injury road accidents within the zone and inside charging hours fell by 152 or 11%, compared with the year before. But that year (before the charge was introduced) there was a fall of 226 or 14% compared with the year before that.:- TfL - London Toll Impact Report January 2005  (page 32)
This seems to indicate a downward trend in such accidents. Given that there is a reduction in the number of vehicles entering the charging zone, one might expect an accelerated reduction in accidents, but the figures do not prove this. Neither do they indicate what will happen in Edinburgh where there will be many cars and goods vehicles that will travel along less suitable roads in order to avoid the Toll.

Latest Toll Poll - No Sale
The latest poll by the Scotsman of 1,000 voters indicates that the Edinburgh people will not buy Tolls:-   The Scotsman - "Edinburgh says No to congestion charges"

What will happen to the Toll Sellers?
Alastair Jamieson speculates in the Scotsman on what will happen to the politicians who tried to sell Tolls to the people of Edinburgh.:-   The Scotsman - "Does council leader have a Plan B if capital's road tolls plan is rejected?"

Sweden to Learn from Scotland
Ian Black in the Scotsman reports that a delegation is coming this week to Edinburgh from Stockholm. They want to see how the Toll Poll is handled.
Let's hope that the Swedes don't make the same mistakes!


13 February 2005
Road works take their Toll
There are repeated claims (see 7th Feb) that Edinburgh Council has more road works so as to increase congestion during the ballot period:-   Scotland on Sunday - "Frenzy of roadworks raises poll suspicions"


12 February 2005
West Lothian vote
West Lothian Council have organised their own postal ballot on the Toll. The votes will be ignored by Edinburgh, but it is hoped that the Scottish Executive will heed them. Like the Edinburgh Poll, votes have to be in my Monday 21st:-   Evening News - "Voters urged to have say in alternative tolls poll"

Green Carnival
Green campaigners were due to have a Climate Change Carnival in Edinburgh and London. They claim that Tolls will reduce greenhouse emissions:-   BBC - "Green campaigners go on the march"
The people who want Tolls seem to have temporarily given up on their claims that Tolls will reduce air pollution, a claim which is not supported by the published figures. They are now concentrating on CO2.
Cars do contribute to CO2 emissions, but only 20%. And tolls may lead to longer car journeys - detouring round toll cordons or going to "out of town" shops etc - and thus more and not less CO2 will be created.
The Greens know all this, so why don't they just tell us what their real aim is?


11 February 2005
More London Woe
Oxford Street within the London "Congestion" Charging zone is in decline. Ken Livingstone says that there are too many buses:-   London Evening Standard - "Mayor: Oxford Street is in decline"

More on the Poll arrangements
An Edinburgh City Council official says that the complicated voting arrangements were agreed by a "cross party group".
We believe that is correct. But we don't know why they decided on a postal ballot rather than using the ballot box and having it all over in one day. Neither does the council statement mention that the most fundamental part of the Poll, i.e. the question, was NOT agreed by "a cross party group".
The council have said that any one needing advice on filling in the ballot papers should contact the council's telephone helpline on 0131-529 4877.
It is available from 8am to 8pm on weekdays; and also between 9am and 5pm on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 February.

Jane Bradley reports on at least one couple who sent off the application to vote in the Toll Poll, but have learnt that it was not received and they are disenfranchised:-   Evening News - "Tolls hotline takes 1200 complaints"

"Tolls will boost Property prices"
Another report in The Scotsman claims that "HOMEOWNERS in Edinburgh will see their property values increase" due to Tolls.
All we can say is amazing.


10 February 2005
People may not be duped, but will they return their ballot papers?
Jenny Hjul gives her opinion on the way the Toll Poll is being conducted and says "I don't think the people of Edinburgh will be so easily duped:-   The Scotsman - "Edinburgh will not be so easily duped"
The Scotsman also reports that 45,000 ballot papers have already been returned. Not bad considering that the voting forms have only just gone out and are so complicated. But we will know better in a few days.
There is a danger that those who don't want Tolls will not vote because of the complicated forms and because they believe that Tolls have already been defeated.

More on Edinburgh's Loss is Glasgow's Gain
The Herald reports on the boost to Glasgow if Edinburgh brings in Tolls. The Scottish Tourism Forum say that 80% of their members are against the charge:-   The Herald - "Capital car tax could benefit Glasgow firms and shops"


9 February 2005
Toll Poll latest
About the only ones who think that the ballot paper is not confusing are the Green Party.
Here is an update from Alan McEwen on what others say:-   Evening News - "Baffling road-toll vote a shambles, say critics - Hundreds jam helpline"

"Edinburgh's loss is our gain over congestion charge"
This is the headline in tonight's evening paper in Glasgow.
Glasgow reckons that it will be "miles better" for them if Edinburgh votes for tolls as some shoppers and tourists would go to Glasgow instead:-   Glasgow Evening Times - "Edinburgh's loss is our gain over congestion charge"

"London businesses split"
The Scotsman reports conflicting views on whether London businesses think "congestion" charging has been a success:-   The Scotsman - "London businesses split on effects of congestion charge"
They don't seem to think in Glagow that the London charge has been a success. See what London businesses really think:-   Effect on London Businesses

More on Toll Poll confusion
Today's Scotsman refers to the "heavily loaded question" and concludes:- "Some will give up half-way through, while others risk having their vote declared void because they have muddled the envelopes, or not folded the papers correctly. In fact, because of the lay-out of the infernal forms, there is even a risk of voters mailing the ballot back - to themselves. Never mind. There is an instruction form, together with final promotional bumf to ensure that you vote the "right" way. Still confused? There's always the set of instructions available in Chinese." What else would you expect from the "Yes" spin doctors? Let's hope that they are not allowing overseas voting!


8 February 2005
Ken defends increasing London charge to 8 a day
Ken says "You have to make a quantum step forward to make people consider whether they continue to drive" . Tory spokeswoman Angie Bray said: "You got the figures wrong last time. Why should anyone believe your figures now? What you are really after is more money."   London Evening Standard - "Mayor accused over C-charge"

2 bits from Evening News
1. A councillor has reportedly used council facilities to send out newsletters urging people to vote "Yes". The councillor paid for the facilities but there is a query as to whether this should have been done:-   Evening News - Opinion - "Upholding standards"
2. A property manager considers who will be the losers and who the gainers if the "Yes" lobby win:- :  Evening News - "Boardroom with a view"

Unfair on the Poor
Quote from a report in the Daily Record. They also quote a "Yes" camapigner who talks of a city where "congestion is down by 30 per cent and traffic fumes by 20 per cent":-   Daily Record - "TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY ..THAT IS THE CONGESTION"
The city with reduced congestion and cleaner air is supposedly London. We invite the "Yes" camp to look at the facts:- :  LONDON "CONGESTION" CHARGE - THE IMPACT - JAN O5 REPORT

Who is green?
Lib Dems, SNP and Scottish Socialists were yesterday condemned for not being Green enough:-   The Scotsman - "War of words erupts over road tolls"
Perhaps the Greens are too green. If they studied the facts on air quality, Toll & Air Pollution  they would see that Tolls will not help.

Toll Poll confusion
Voters are confused as to which bits to send or not send back on the postal ballot:-   The Scotsman - "Confusion over ballot papers in tolls referendum"


7 February 2005
Students View
The Students newspaper, which seemed to be in the "Yes" camp, today presents both sides of the argument.
The Yes view from their president, and the No from Tina Woolnough of the Community groups-   Independent Student Voice - "Trucking hell"
Seeing what the President says, we urge him to have a look at what our website says. It might not change his mind, but he may learn something.

"Major road works to cause Congestion during Toll Poll"
The council denies that it is deliberately increasing congestion according to this report from Brian Ferguson and Ian Swanson:-   Evening News - "D-day for road tolls"

"Driver's Money might as well be shredded"
Glasgow's evening paper quotes NAAT: "The people of Edinburgh have been offered a "pig in a poke". The hundreds of pounds that will be collected from each driver might as well be shredded due to the cost of collection":-   Evening Times - "Capital votes on congestion charge plan"

Rainbow Coalition
"In a rare show of unity, MSPs from the Tories, LibDems, SNP and the Scottish Socialist Party will share the same stage to voice opposition to Labour's congestion charging plans for Edinburgh."-   The Herald - "Vote no plea as charging poll gets into gear"

Edinburgh starts to decide
BBC - "Edinburgh to decide on road tolls"    Reuters - "Edinburgh mulls congestion charge"
One woman could not wait for the chance to have her say. She feels strongly that the proposed scheme to charge motorists to drive into the city will mean her street will become a rat run for people trying to avoid paying up. "I voted no because I fundamentally believe from the council's own evidence that there will be a displacement of traffic rather than an overall reduction.. The displacement will be around residential streets and those near schools. Streets like the one I live on will show an increase in traffic."    Scottish TV - "Edinburgh residents get ballot papers for congestion charge referendum"

"We are going to grab every vote we can."
So say the Yes lobby who aim to get all those who don't drive to vote "yes" to tolls.:-   The Scotsman - "Toll campaigners target non-drivers"
It is not just drivers who will be hit by Tolls. Residents in the "doughnut" will have more traffic as it shuffles round avoiding the cordons. And a decline in business in the city centre will affect more than just the shopkeepers!
As for the promises of various goodies paid for by drivers, there is no guarantee that there will be any money left after the Council has paid cost of collecting Tolls.


6 February 2005
Why "No" and "Yes" and "No"
Magnus Linklater writes on why he will vote No in the Toll Poll:-   Scotland on Sunday - "Should motorists pay for cheap promise of no jams tomorrow? No"
While in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter criticises the people of Edinburgh for not voting "Yes". He says it is a "no-brainer" and they should vote "Yes".
And in the Observer, Ruaridh Nicoll writes on why he will vote No in the Toll Poll:-   The Observer - "An ill-considered toll"

Need for Maximum Vote
Jason Allardyce of the Sunday Times in Scotland reports that the campaigners in favour of Toll charges "are bracing themselves for a defeat in the face of overwhelming public opposition". We still need the maximum number of voters to return their Ballot papers. Otherwise the Yeses may still get their Tolls!


5 February 2005
"Yes" Push
The BBC reports that the "Yes" campaign "have taken to the streets in a last-minute bid to garner support". Campaigners include political activists and green groups that want Edinburgh to charge Tolls.

Toll Tax or Poll Tax
The Financial Times has a report from Andrew Bolger, their Scotland corresponent. It quotes leading Tolls advocate, David Begg:- "Edinburgh was a prime candidate to introduce congestion charging even though English cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds all suffered worse congestion."
Is any one old enough to remember the Poll Tax? That was tried out in Scotland before they introduced it South of the border. We seem to recall that it wasn't very popular north or south!
It was suggested only a few weeks ago that Manchester could follow Edinburgh's "lead". The Labour Leader of Manchester City Council said that he would oppose any tolls plan as it could be "extremely damaging" to the local economy:-   manchesteronline.co.uk - "Brakes put on road toll plan"

Pig in a Poke
Yesterday the hearing of the legal challenge was adjourned till after the Toll Poll. Report from Alastair Dalton:-   The Scotsman - "Legal action may be final arbiter in capital's road referendum"
Edinburgh's counsel told the court that "the challenge was premature because details of the scheme had yet to be finalised".
Though the people of Edinburgh are being asked to vote for a pig in a poke, hopefully they will have the sense not to buy it.

Fair Toll Poll Question
There have been further rumblings about the biased question that is to be put to Edinburgh voters. Report from Edward Black:-   The Scotsman - "Toll opponents attack ballot 'bias'"
The spokesman for the city council says: "It has been drawn up with regard to electoral and Scottish law which states the question is fair and balanced. I would not comment on the use of the word 'preferred' in the question."
We have little doubt that a Scottish court would find the question unfair. But what would the people of Edinburgh think if in some distant land, they were to have a referendum and only the party in power thought that the Poll question was fair?

"Misleading" Brian Ferguson in Edinburgh's Evening News reports what the Plain English Campaign think about the question and the leaflet that the Council is sending out. John Lister from the Plain English Campaign says that the leaflet is "confusing, over-complicated and misleading":-   Evening News - "Jargon busters target road toll ballots"
In our view, the politicians must believe that "You can fool all the people all the time". Let us hope that the people of Edinburgh will see through the spin.


4 February 2005
Boom Time for London Toll Judges
Here is a story by David Williams that was in the London Evening Standard on the 1st:-
"Parking and Traffic Appeals Service was overwhelmed as a far higher number of motorists than expected objected to their fines - there were 42,000 appeals in the first 12 months ....a further 21 adjudicators have been appointed in a bid to keep up with demand, taking the total to 37."     London Evening Standard - "Large increase in C-charge appeals"

Poll forecasts "No" to Tolls
A Poll before the Poll, comissioned by the Evening News, indicates that the people of Edinburgh will reject the proposed Toll scheme by a large margin:-     Evening News - "Wheels come off the drive for road tolls"  Evening News - "Road tolls: It's going to be no"  Evening News - Opinion Last stand for charge"
We are pleased that it looks as if the people have Edinburgh have seen through this Toll scheme. But we hope that those who intend to vote "No" will not now think they needn't return the ballot form. That is assuming that they are not one of the 35,000 that won't get one anyway!

Toll Will Make a Profit?
Alastair Dalton, the Scotsman's Transport Correspondent reports on the way Edinburgh would administer it's proposed Toll scheme. He says that you will not be able to check whether you should pay or not, and if you do pay by mistake, then you can't claim a refund.
(Though paying by mistake is a small loss, compared with the 60 penalty if you forget!):-     The Scotsman - "No refund if drivers pay road charge by mistake"
TIE apparently say that they will make a profit of 38 million a year and the scheme will cost half that to run. That works out at 19 million a year to run with Tolls and fines income of 57 million. That is remarkable as the London scheme charges 5 a day instead of 2, has even more swingeing fines and yet basically only makes a profit from the fines.
If London were to charge at the same rate as Edinburgh we reckon that there would be a loss of 50 million.
(Income would be about 90 million:- 55 million charges and 35 million fines; and their expenditure is about 140 million.)
The court case yesterday is at end of the news item. Counsel for the councils that oppose the Toll said:-
"There would be clear discrimination in treatment of residents who in all other respects are in virtually identical circumstances."


3 February 2005
"indiscriminate, inefficient, expensive and unfair"
The Evening News reports that an Edinburgh Professor has "branded the Toll scheme as indiscriminate, inefficient,expensive and unfair".
We agree with that. But we don't agree with his alternative which seems to be some other form of road pricing.

Latest on Councils in Court
Ray Perman, chairman of the "Yes" Campaign and board member of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothians, has told the court: "By trying, with this court action, to stifle Edinburgh's burgeoning economic growth these dinosaur councils are in danger of killing the goose that lays the golden egg."
Meanwhile "Yes" campaigners dressed as cavemen, apparently to represent "No" campaigners. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for them to be in more modern dress, i.e. the 18th and 19th dress that was worn when Scotland was under the yoke of turnpike roads.
The Judge told the court that he was a member of the Cockburn Association, but the lawyers said that they had no objection to him hearing the case:-     Evening News - "Lawyers argue road toll scheme illegal "

Worst roads Award
Audit Scotland has reported that Edinburgh has the worst roads in the country. With two out of three requiring maintenance:-     Evening News - "Dark, noisy city where roads are neglected and red tape rules"
If you look back at our report on the 12th November it is not surprising that Edinburgh's roads are bad. The Council was only spending 9 million on the roads, while it was spending 8 million on trying to get it's Toll plans agreed!

More on Yes posters
It appears that the Yes campaign will be allowed to keep their posters up. The Council said that this was normal election practice.:-     The Scotsman - "Yes campaign accused of breaking rules in poster row"
In our view, it is hardly normal when some 35,000 electors will not be allowed to vote., and the question to be put is regatded by most people as biased.
Jenny Hjul writes that her area is swamped with the Yellow "Yes" posters, even though most people in her area are against the Toll:-     The Scotsman - "'Yes' campaigners have unfair advantage"

Councils in Court
Fife, West Lothian and Midlothian councils take Edinburgh City Council to Court of Session today over what they claim is the unfairness of the Toll on their citizens:-     BBC - "Court considers congestion charge"     The Scotsman - "Neighbours go to war over congestion charge"


2 February 2005
Double Noose
Tina Woolnough gives the views of Edinburgh Communities against Congestion Charging:-     BBC - "Congestion plan: 'A double noose'"
Meanwhile the body that was set up to promote cycling and construct cycleways argues that tolls are good for everyone:-     BBC - "Congestion plan: 'The only way'"

Three from the Evening News
Traffic Jam predicted for 2025
Edinburgh City Council say that without Tolls, traffic will reach unsustainable levels in 20 years:-     Evening News - "City chiefs say charging only way out of jam"

Pro Toll group claim that Tolls are Top of the Pops
Here is another apparently pro toll message in the Evening News. It appears that the Yes lobby are claiming what a success Tolls have been elsewhere :-     Evening News - "So will tolls make a world of difference?"

Pro Toll group's Secret Weapon
The "Yes" group today unveiled their secret weapon - a cartoon of "Congestion Man". In this Brave New World of Tolls he is promised that he will be able to drive along roads that are not cluttered by other motorists and all for the bargain sum of 2 a day. We're not sure whether this should be classed as Science Fiction or Fantasy:-     Evening News - "Cartoon raps out pro-toll message"
More on Illegal Posters
Alastair Dalton reports on the continuing confusion. Fred Mackintosh, of the council's Liberal Democrat group, said: "For the council to be supporting the Yes campaign by allowing the posters to stay is simply outrageous. It is one rule for those the Labour group like and another for those it doesn't like.":-
     The Scotsman - "Posters delay provokes claims of bias"
In a separate piece, Bob Downes, Director of BT Scotland, suggests that one answer to Congestion may be more people working at home.


1 February 2005
"Human Ingenuity"
Robin Stimpson, managing partner of leading city property firm Anderson Strathern, is quoted as saying:-
"In relation to congestion charging as with any other taxation, one mustn't underestimate the extent of human ingenuity to try and circumvent payment."
"It seems likely that the introduction of congestion charging will have an effect on residential areas within the 'doughnut' created between the inner and outer bands ..."
"Residents of outer suburbs may choose to drive to areas where they can leave their car without charge ..."
"This phenomenon is not new as residents just outwith existing restricted parking zones will be aware, but is likely to increase after a congestion charge is introduced. It also seems likely new 'rat runs' will be developed as people starting and ending their journey within the inner and outer bands seek to ensure that their journey avoids crossing a congestion charge band. "
"This is likely to cause an increase in cross-country traffic in suburban areas as motorists avoid the direct route across town or even the by pass if by so doing they will cross a congestion band."
:-     Evening News - "Road tolls to hit house prices"

Science Fiction
Jennifer Veitch gives two "science fiction-style scenarios" either a "thick pall of smog" or a traffic free Utopia.
In our view this is no choice as they are both fiction:-     Evening News - "Will a 'no' vote take its toll on city?"

Yes posters to be made legal
Alistiar Dalton reports that the illegal Yes posters should come down. But it looks as if the council, who want a "Yes" vote will give permission for the illegal posters to stay for the remaining weeks till the vote closes:-     The Scotsman - "'Yes' campaigners told to take down illegal posters"
The Scotsman also has an Opinion piece from an architect who seems to want cars to pay a Toll, but also talks of "congested pavements and speeding buses belching out diesel fumes":-     "We need to see the big picture on transport"


31 January 2005
Students Urged to campaign & vote for Tolls
There are two stories in the Edinburgh Student newspaper, the "Independent" Voice:-     "Edinburgh takes charge"     "EUSA fuming at congestion"

Pro Tollers Campaign
Jennifer Veitch reports various mainly pro toll statements, including from leading Tolls advocate, David Begg.
On the issue of Air Pollution, Labour councillor, Donald Anderson says ""We are not going to take accusations of scare-mongering from the groups opposing road tolls. It's a simple statement of fact. Congestion charging is the only way to meet these targets."     Evening News - "Driving forces behind road tolls plan" plus "Tory brands city car ban warning as scare tactics"

Edinburgh City Council & Air Pollution
Claire Smith reports that Edinburgh City Council have admitted that "its own figures show that cutting the number of cars would have little effect on pollution levels as diesel buses and taxis are the worst offenders." The buses are mainly owned by the council:-     The Scotsman - "Buses and taxis get blame as capital fails emission test"


30 January 2005
Accept Tolls OR ELSE!!
Edinburgh City Council and the Governments at Holyrood and Westminster must be getting worried. They are now saying that Air Pollution in Edinburgh is so bad that if the people say "No" to Tolls, they will have to ban cars:-     Sunday Herald - "Edinburgh council: vote 'yes' to congestion charge or we'll ban cars from the capital"
It appears from what they say, that Air Pollution would be OK as long as people pay tolls.
It also appears that they don't know that the vast bulk of the Air Pollution in the city centre does not come from cars:- Toll & Air Pollution
PS Alan Taylor in the Sunday Herald sees some humour in the Toll Poll:-    Sunday Herald - "Congested? try Maputo"

Boom for Royal Park traffic
The Sunday Times Scotland reports on the predicted increase in traffic in the Royal Park. If the Edinburgh Toll is introduced the park will be one route that traffic will take to try and avoid the Toll:-    Sunday Times - "Royal Park could turn into 'rat run'"
In a separate report in the Sunday Times, Jason Allardyce says that Alistair Darling (who is both UK Transport Secretary and Scottish Secretary) has been put on an "at risk" list for the next election, because of "the possibility of a backlash against congestion charges in the city".


29 January 2005
5,000 reasons for voting Yes?
Gareth Evans reports that the "Yes" campaigners may have to remove posters they have put up around the city. Such posters are usually illegal, but the "yes" people (which includes Labour councillors) thought that they had permission from the Labour run council. The Chief Executive has now said that no official permission has been given for the posters. We will see whether the posters are removed or not, but in any case we hope that the people of Edinburgh will not be swayed by posters, even if there are 5,000 of them!     Evening News - "Council to tear down Vote Yes toll placards"

Flying vist from Trams man
The Evening News also reports that a "flying visit" was made to Edinburgh by someone from the French company that will operate the trams. He said that trams were the answer to congestion, and that the trams would not need a subsidy as they would make a profit:-     Evening News - "Taxpayer 'won't foot bill for running trams'"

600 bill for Twice forgetting to pay Toll
The Scotsman today has a story that was previously in the London Evening Standard on the 20th - Actor Tom Conti born in Paisley says that "bully-boy tactics" are used against those who forget to pay the London "Congestion Charge":-     The Scotsman - "Conti takes stand against charges "
According to report from Alistair Dalton, the Scotsman's Transport Correspondent, Edinburgh will not be as bad as London. If you forget to pay by midnight on the day, the fine will be "only" 30 (as against 50). But if you don't pay that fairly quickly, then...............     The Scotsman - "Late road toll payers to face parking-style fines"


28 January 2005
Tram Funding
Sam Halstead reports that various businesses are to lobby the Scottish Executive to fund a proposed "third" tram line if there is a "No" vote in the Toll Poll.
We don't understand why they think it is fair to use any profit from the Toll on trams. Neither do we understand why they think that there will be a profit from the Toll!     Evening News - "'No' vote fear sparks fight for tram line"
The Evening News also has a long piece from Bill Furness, chairman of the Combined City Centre Business Association. He concludes:- "Voters must understand fully the council's plans in this crucial debate if they are to be in a sound position to make the right decision."-     Evening News - Opinion -"Tolls vote masks real concerns"
As we get nearer to the Poll, perhaps some attention will be paid South of the border. Here is a report on "Environmental Data Interactive":-     "Vote on Edinburgh congestion charge could face delays"

First Minister backs Edinburgh Toll
Jack McConnell backed Edinburgh Toll plan in Scottish Parliament yesterday. Shiona Baird, the Greens' co-convener, said: "I appreciate the position he was in, but he gave enough of an indication that he did support the council."
The only problem is that as the Scottish Executive have not yet decided on the Toll plan, he is supposed to be neutral. Fergus Ewing, the SNP's transport spokesman, said the First Minister's words conflicted with the Scottish Executive's legal duty:-     The Scotsman - "Row as McConnell hints at toll backing"
And in the Evening News, the First Minister seemed to imply that those, like us, campaigning for a "No" vote are not honest:-     "Jack's honesty plea on tolls"


27 January 2005
Edinburgh Toll - Promise to "ditch" unworkable
Lib Dem councillor, Fred Mackintosh has said that the idea that Tolls could be ditched after 2 years "is totally unworkable" because the council will have spent so much money on the scheme.
City Tory leader Iain Whyte said: "The Labour party are running around looking at any measures they can possibly think of now to try to calm people's fears...The answer is not to have the road tolls in the first place."
It was also confirmed today that 42,000 people would not be allowed to vote in the Toll Poll:-     Evening News - "Ditching road tolls 'would be unworkable'"

Plumber reckons Toll plan doesn't hold water
Ken Smilie, an Edinburgh plumber has to drive his van round to jobs. He gives his view of the proposed Toll in a report from Claire Smith in today's Scotsman. He reckons that any congestion is because of too severe parking restrictions and delays caused by one man buses.
He says : "The council created this congestion and now they are using it as a pretext for a tax. It makes steam come out of my ears to think about it."     The Scotsman - "Plumber doesn't believe charges will let traffic flow freely"

Business views on the Toll
Alistair Dalton, the Scotsman's Transport Correspondent reports on the varying views of businesses on the Toll. Ken Livingstone is quoted as saying, in Edinburgh last week, that small retailers were always complaining that business was awful:-     The Scotsman - "Claim and counter claim on toll plans"

More on "Independent" panel to monitor Edinburgh Toll
The Scotsman has a further report on the suggestion that a panel would monitor the Toll and could scrap it after 2 years. The person who has put this forward also says that any contracts for transport improvements funded by the Toll would include clauses enabling them to be cancelled if tolls were scrapped, at no extra cost to the council. We are a bit puzzled as to why they think they will make a profit, and who these generous contractors are who will provide an escape clause for nothing.
Tina Woolnough, of Edinburgh Communities Against Congestion Charging, said: "This is a cynical attempt to apply pressure to uncertain voters. What we need from our political leaders are decent, workable solutions, not a double-noose twin-cordon which will strangle small businesses and make traffic worse for residential areas and schools."     The Scotsman - "Road tolls may be monitored by panel that could order them axed"


26 January 2005
Edinburgh Toll - 1. "Independent" Monitor 2. Legal Challenge
The Evening News gives two for the price of one:-     Evening News - "Pledge to ditch tolls if scheme is unsuccessful"
1. Edinburgh Council appears to fear it will lose the Toll Poll, and is offering to set up an "independent" body to monitor the scheme. It says that the scheme could be scrapped after 2 years. Yes, they really claim that.
2. A bit more on the legal challenge by 3 councils.
The Evening News also give their latest opinion on the Toll:-     Evening News - "On road to compromise"
They seem to be saying that maybe the people should vote Yes, as otherwise the City Council will have wasted a lot of money. That doesn't seem to us to be a justification for waste of more money.

1. Edinburgh - Greener? 2. Last night's Public Debate
Another two for the price of one:-     The Scotsman - "Will road charging lead to a greener capital?"
1. Edinburgh Council and its green supporters say that Edinburgh air is badly polluted and that cars are too blame. They claim that the Toll to cross the 2 cordons will improve air quality and save lives.
2. Last night 400 people attended a debate at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The Council spokesman and someone from London argued for Tolls. The Lib Dem spokesman and a trader said that they agreed with Tolls in principle but not as was proposed for Edinburgh. Tina Woolnough for the Community pointed out that the Toll would mean there was actually more traffic in residential areas.


25 January 2005
London Toll may be expanded over most of the Metropolis
Ken Livingstone is already pushing for expansion of the London Toll zone. Now Ken's American transport boss has revealed that he wants to extend Tolls over most of London's roads:-     The Times - "London leads the way to make drivers pay on all busy roads")  (2 pages)   London Evening Standard - "C-charge in the suburbs"

Legal Challenge to Edinburgh Toll Poll to go ahead
The Court of Session in Edinburgh has ruled out an application by Edinburgh City Council to delay consideration of the legal challenge. The challenge comes from Fife, West Lothian and Midlothian councils who consider that the Toll is unfair to their residents:-     BBC - "Congestion review given go-ahead"
The case will be heard on 3rd and 4th February, and if necessary continue on 15th to 18th March. The postal poll is due to start on Monday, 7 February and last for 2 weeks.

City divided
Ian Johnston's piece today seems to be a good even handed summary of how Edinburgh came to be having a Toll Poll:-     The Scotsman - "Congestion charges: issue that split a city in two"
The Scotsman has organised an online debate:-     The Scotsman - "The Scotsman online debate: congestion charging"

Greens Go for Lib Dems
"Friends of the Earth" are to demonstrate outside the Scottish HQ of Lib Dems. They are upset because the Lib Dems oppose the Edinburgh Toll scheme:-     The Scotsman - "Road toll supporters target Lib-Dems HQ"
We agree with the "foe" that the Lib Dems generally support Tolls. But when it comes to the practical application of tolls in one's own area, you have to be a bit fanatical not to realise that they are unfair, uneconomic and unworkable.


24 January 2005
Opponent of Edinburgh Toll invited on to Panel, while Londoners Demonstrate
There is to be a Toll debate arranged by the City Council tomorrow, the 25th. There have been complaints that there was not an opposition councillor invited, but they have now invited one:-     Evening News - "U-turn over road tolls debate ban"
Meanwhile in London, there is to be a demonstration on Saturday against the extension of the existing Toll:-     London Evening Standard - "C-charge activists planning gridlock"

Pressure on Edinburgh City Council to cut back Toll plans
Pressure is growing on Edinburgh City Council to cut back on its plans for Congestion Charges.
Report from Alan Duncan including "key questions and answers" and interview with Thom McCarthy, a trader who is opposing the charge:-     The Scotsman - "Give way over concessions or lose toll vote, say critics"
If the Council cut back, then it will increase the chances of a Yes vote, but it will make it even more likely that the scheme will lose money.


23 January 2005
Retired Traffic Management Officer attacks Edingbugh Toll
Graham Dick, retired officer in charge of traffic management at Lothian and Borders Police, said the Toll proposals are incoherent and unworkable and could lead to "an expanding Orwellian nightmare":-     Sunday Herald - "Traffic chief slams congestion plans"


22 January 2005
Call for Edinburgh Toll Poll to be delayed
There are further calls for the Edinburgh Toll Poll to be delayed, because the legal challenge from neighbouring councils is unlikely to be settled till after the Poll:-     Evening News - "Pressure grows on city to delay road tolls vote"
A separate "opinion" piece in the Evening News concludes "It is only if there is a 'yes' vote which is then successfully challenged that the Council will have to deal with legal ramifications and it is best that the vote should proceed. Edinburgh deserves a decision one way or another."
In NAAT view, if they do decide to delay the vote it will be because they fear losing.
There is a further Opinion piece from Jennifer Veitch at:-     Evening News - "Parking review: a ticket to ride toll poll?"

Edinburgh Toll Debate in The Scotsman
Starting on Monday, the Scotsman is to cover the Toll in even more depth:-     The Scotsman - "Vote on congestion charge is vital for the capital's future"
The paper also gives the latest estimate of "missing" voters - 35,000. It appears that the Council have counted it twice and come up with different numbers:-     The Scotsman - "Up to 35,000 city voters still not registered for road toll poll"


21 January 2005
Edinburgh Trys to Tempt Traders
Edinburgh is getting worried about the opposition from traders to its Toll scheme. It has now suggested various measures to help shops such as relaxing parking rules and reducing parking charges:-     Evening News - "Victory as city looks to relax 'too restrictive' parking rules"
It remains to be seen whether traders will be taken in by this. Tolls have a psychological impact far in excess of the amount of money concerned and changes in parking rules will probably be invisible to many people.


20 January 2005
Edinburgh Laugh
Edinburgh wanted to issue a bus map before the Toll Poll. Bizarrely though the Council is otherwise heavily promoting the Tolls scheme it has been advised that the bus map might be regarded as trying to influence voters. We can not even begin to guess why the other propaganda has been allowed, but an apparently innocuous bus map has been stopped. Is this a joke? It would be interesting to see the full details of all the legal advice the city has been given:-     Evening News - "New tolls row over plan for free bus map"


19 January 2005
Edinburgh Pro Toll "Bull"
Pro Toll campaigners in Edinburgh appear to be claiming that the Pope would agree with them. But a Catholic Church in Scotland spokesperson has said: "If that is what the Pope said, that is what he said, but although he is saying that congestion is a problem in Rome, he is not prescribing congestion charging .... That is the domain of local politicians and the people of Edinburgh.":-     Evening News - "Road tolls really ARE the answer to Capital's prayers.."


18 January 2005
Edinburgh Toll Conference - "The Toll of Two Cities"
The Evening News give their opinion and conclude "Edinburgh people should be extremely wary of listening to Mr Livingstone's arguments when considering whether to support congestion charging":-     Evening News - Opinion - "The Toll of two Cities"

Report from Edinburgh Toll Conference - Ken says Letting People choose is too risky
Yesterday's conference in Edinburgh was dominated by the presence of Ken Livingstone. He of course enthused over the London Toll zone charges. He also said that it was a mistake to have a vote on it. There was a danger that people would vote No, and this would scare the government into abandoning its plans for tolls on all Britain's roads:-     The Scotsman - "Britain's transport strategy depends on Edinburgh 'yes' vote on road tolls"


17 January 2005
Transport Lobby say Tolls are good for motorists
The BBC asked TRANSform Scotland and the East of Scotland Federation of Small Businesses for their views.
TRANSform are a transport pressure group, they say "For motorists using the zones, it will be a better place to drive as there will be less congestion."
The FSB say that 76% of their members oppose Tolls:-     BBC - "'Green city' or 'hollow doughnut'"

Edinburgh Toll Doubts
Sir Tom Farmer, one of Scotland's wealthiest men, was said to be backing the Toll but now has some reservations. He can well afford the nearly 500 a year that a driver would pay. His reservations include the need for an outer cordon, the exemption of part of western Edinburgh, exemption of Holyrood, and whether the charge will effectively become a tax. Conservative councillor, Allan Jackson said :- "As far as we are concerned there should not be any tolls....This whole proposal has been a farce from start to finish ... and I think the Labour council will soon realise that this has been a waste of 8 million.
The same report says that at today's conference, John Lewis store claimed that retailers in the city were united against the Tolls scheme:-     Evening News - "Sir Tom goes cool over road charge"

Safer Streets?
The community group campaigning against the Toll have highlighted Edinburgh Council's own findings that traffic will increase on many streets that pass schools as drivers try to avoid the tolls. Lorna Hudson, who is also a campaigner for safer routes to schools, said: "... When parents were informed many of them were shocked and what we want to do is ensure the public have this kind of information before they decide how to vote."
Tina Woolnough, who is heading the campaign, said it would take Edinburgh back to the days before the by-pass was built. "Congestion charging will push traffic on to the side streets around schools and residential areas, as drivers try to avoid paying."
A Green MSP disagreed and said that the city as a whole would be a safer place because of all the Toll money that would be spent on public transport, including the trams:-     Evening News - "Road toll rat-runs 'will put children at risk'"

Ken Invades Edinburgh
Ken Livingstone will be speaking today at a conference organised by Scotland on Sunday. He is expected to urge Scots to follow London's example:-     BBC - "Livingstone backs city toll plans"
Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie will also be speaking and warns that the Edinburgh Toll might rise like London:-   The Scotsman - "Proposed 2 congestion fee may rise, says Tory leader"


16 January 2005
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Accuses Council
Edinburgh City Council is accused of using its funds to "steer a yes" vote in the Toll Poll. Most businesses are against the Toll, but tolls advocate Professor Begg says that Tolls are good for business:-     Sunday Herald - "Chambers cry foul over road charges"


15 January 2005
Shops Don't Want Edinburgh Toll
No There is a report and an Opinion piece in the Evening News about opposition from shops to the Toll. Shops are aware of the experience in London, and fear that a fall in trade due to the Toll will force them out of business.
One of the shopkeepers opposing the Toll is Tom McCarthy, the "Denim King" who said: "We will be giving Ken Livingstone a warm welcome to Edinburgh as he tries to gain support for this scheme. The whole idea of road tolls has been a big failure in London and now the charge is being moved from 5 to 8. The same will happen to Edinburgh once the city council get their nose in the trough."
Evening News - "Retailers to target Livingstone's visit"     Evening News - "Take a toll on shoppers"

Some shopkeepers have muted their concerns as they don't like getting involved in controversies. It is possible that Edinburgh City Council may make some concession that might help stem a fall in trade, but that would mean that the Toll scheme would lose the Council even more money than is already likely.

Edinburgh - Ooops! Now 40,000 to miss Toll Poll
The Scotsman reports more up to date figures for those who won't be able to vote. Before the campaign started there were 60,000 people who had chosen not to be on the "edited" register. Apparently 8,500 of those filled in the special forms and have been added to the Toll Poll register, and there are a further 3,000 forms being processed:-   BBC - "40,000 set to be voteless in road toll poll "
The Scotsman also reports Ken Livingstone backing the Toll scheme. This is the same man who wouldn't answer questions from the Evening News on 23rd December, because he couldn't interfere.


14 January 2005
Edinburgh - 30,000 to miss Toll Poll
The BBC reports that about 30,000 Edinburgh residents will not be able to vote in the Toll Poll, because they are not on the full register and did not complete the special vote application form:-   BBC - "Residents to miss road toll vote"

Edinburgh War of Words
The Scotsman reports that Edinburgh has complained that a map issued by West Lothian in its fight against Edinburgh tolls shows the wrong border between the two. Willie Dunn from West Lothian council said: "There are more important issues to be considered than a shaded area on an indicative map. They are grasping at straws because they know the game is up."


13 January 2005
Register for Tolls Poll " Line Busy"
The time to register for the Toll Poll runs out Friday for those not on the "edited" register. It may already be too late to even get the form. Report from Jane Bradley:-   Evening News - "Outcry as tolls hotline fails to cope with calls"


12 January 2005
Forum of Private Business oppose Edinburgh Toll
The Forum of Private Business has done a survey of its members in the city. Not suprisingly they don't want tolls. The survey confirms one done by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce a year ago. The City Council has however managed to get statements of support for Tolls from some businesses, including one restaurant and various Chief Executives.
Report from Brian Ferguson:-   Evening News - "70% of businesses in city against road tolls"


11 January 2005
Edinburgh Toll Rally on Burns Night
Edinburgh City Council has organised a debate on 25th January, Burns night. It is feared that it will be stage managed and paid for from council funds:-   Evening News - "City Burns Night 'road tolls rally' is attacked"
The Evening News also asks those who oppose the Toll to speak up:-   Evening News - Opinion - "The sound of silence"    They are right to call for people to speak up, most people are opposed to the Toll Zone scheme, but they need to have their voice heard. If you can help, then please contact the Community Associations who oppose the scheme:-  Community Associations  or us:-  naat  , or a councillor from one of the parties opposing the Tolls:- Lib Dem, SNP and Tory.

Tolls good for Cyclists?
The latest to voice their support for the scheme is the Chief Executive of Cycling Scotland. He apparently thinks that there will be a boom in cycling. The reality is that there will be more traffic in the streets between the Inner and Outer Cordons, and this is where most cyclists are.

Tolls good for Heritage?
At first it looked as if there would be no news today (sighs of relief). So we looked back and saw this letter from 8th January. Jim Taylor from the Murrays Brae wonders why Scottish Heritage organisations are backing the tolls scheme "which will besmirch Edinburgh with its hideous cameras, signage and diverted congestion. And, they proffer support for an inefficient, inflexible tram scheme which will cause devastation during its construction and which, with its road tracks and overhead cabling attached to buildings, will assuredly defile our fair city."-   Evening News - Letter - "Rethink of our public transport is long overdue"


10 January 2005
Edinburgh's 53,000 ineligible voters
Registration for Edinburgh Toll Poll closes on Friday 14th. (Most voters don't have to register, it is only those who asked for privacy.) It is reported today that there are still 53,000 people who are not on the full register and who have not completed a "Referendum Form":-   Evening News - "53,000 not registered to vote on road tolls"   Evening News - Opinion - "Don't lose your vote"   The Scotsman (on 11th) - Road toll campaign a 'failure'


9 January 2005
Civil liberties groups react against extended use of Toll cameras
Stephen Breen reports that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency want to use the Toll cameras to track car tax dodgers. Not many people would have sympathy with those who deliberately evade car tax and insurance, but there is always a risk that data will eventually be used (officially or unofficially) for a purpose that most people would not approve of:-   Scotland on Sunday - "Road tolls cameras may help to catch tax dodgers"

Edinburgh Toll Poll - Sunday Herald report
Report from the "West" on the Edinburgh Toll Poll:-   Sunday Herald - "50,000 Edinburgh voters set to miss congestion vote"


8 January 2005
Edinburgh pro Toll people - the Goodies?
A letter is being circulated asking for money to fund pro Tolls campaign. The Opinion writer in the Evening News says:-"Instead of facing up to fundamental flaws in their traffic policy - which they have not proven will reduce congestion or provide public transport improvements for which it is worth accepting another layer of local taxation - the message coming from the council leadership has descended into emotional blackmail."   Evening News - "City goes cap in hand for cash to fund tolls drive"   Evening News Opinion - "Add insult to penury"

Call for Toll Poll postponement
There have been calls for Edinburgh City Council to postpone the Toll Poll because of the legal challenge:-    The Scotsman - "Capital defiant over court challenge to road tolls"


7 January 2005
Border Tax Court Case to go ahead
The Court of Session has accepted a petition from Fife, Mid Lothian and West Lothian councils. Their case against the Edinburgh Toll Zone will be heard next week. Edinburgh City Council are confident that they will win, but Willie Dunn, Deputy leader of West Lothian Council said: "All the councils together feel Edinburgh Council has taken a decision which is unjust and illegal because it is contrary to legislation regarding congestion charging and also contrary to the inquiry reporters' advice."    BBC - "Way cleared for toll challenge"   Evening News - "Legal challenge to road tolls plan gets the go-ahead"

Toll Poll - Non Edinburgh residents to show their opinion
Lothian News reports on other councils that will have a Toll Poll, though they will have no legal effect. As with Edinburgh those who are not on the full electoral register, must complete and return a form to make sure they can vote in the referendum, by next Friday (January 14):-   "MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR SAY"


6 January 2005
Tolls and Trams
The Evening News today covers the controversy over where the tolls may be spent. The trams are due to receive a massive grant from the Scottish Parliament but there are suggestions that they may still run at a loss to be covered by road tolls.
Apart from the question of how any money should best be spent, there must be some doubt as to how much will be left of any tolls money after cost of collection.
In London the 5 daily toll just about covers the collection cost. There is a profit but it comes mainly from penalties. In Edinburgh with a toll of 2 there may be very little left to go round:-   Evening News Opinion - "Who pays for trams?'":-   Evening News - "Pro-toll campaigners 'blackmailing voters'"

Councils in Court over Border Tax
Fife, Mid Lothian and West Lothian councils are today taking Edinburgh to court over the Toll Zone. They argue that it is unfair as their residents will have to pay the toll, whereas Edinburgh propose that some of their own residents will be exempt:-   BBC - "Legal challenge to capital tolls"


5 January 2005
Wrong scheme, Wrong Time
Fred Mackintosh ,the Lib Dem Transport spokesman on Edinburgh City Council, today argues against the Toll Zone scheme. He does not disagree in principle with tolling, but says that this "is the wrong scheme at the wrong time"    Evening News - "This is not a fare way to ease traffic"


4 January 2005
Tolls will benefit Scots
David Begg who advises the UK government and advocates tolls, today argues for a switch towards tolls away from vehicle excise duty and fuel duty. He says that tolls will suit Scotland, as he says that Scots will pay at the most 12 pence a mile, while London motorists will pay 54 pence.
Bizzarely the Professor supports the Edinburgh Toll Zone scheme, though it will be introduced on top of existing vehicle excise duty and fuel duty:-    The Scotsman - "Tolls scheme is the way forward for all drivers"

Three More on Edinburgh Toll Zone
1. Spam Cartoon - Brian Ferguson, City Council correspondent, reports on a spam email that the Yes lobby are sending out. The email has a cartoon of a piper on Princes Street being overcome by car fumes. (Though modern petrol fueled cars are not responsible for most of the pollution in Princes Street or elsewhere.)   Evening News - "Cartoon to smoke out tolls opposition"
2. Distorting the facts -"The Yes to Edinburgh campaign does itself a disservice by distorting the facts about air pollution into this piece of propaganda."   Evening News - "Clear the air on tolls"
3. Lothian views - Mark Ballard the Green Party MSP for Lothian has said that "It is vital that as many residents as possible in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas are registered to vote in the ballot."
Mark's consituents include the people of West Lothian and Mid Lothian who's views will be ignored in the Toll Poll. Will he be calling for their views to be taken into account?   Evening News - "Green MSP issues toll poll plea to 'lost' voters "


2 January 2005
Shops Against Edinburgh Tolls
Some stores are to hand out leaflets asking customers to vote "No" in the Toll Poll:-  Sunday Times -"Stores lobby shoppers to vote against road charge"


1 January 2005
Two Businessmen support Edinburgh Tolls
In what seems like a concerted campaign, there was another report today of support for the Edinburgh Toll Zone:-  The Scotsman -"Capital's big businesses to back road tolls"


30 December 2004
Heritage trust gives backing to road tolls
The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust has given its backing to the plans for Edinburgh Toll Zone ("Congestion Charge"). The Trust is financed by Edinburgh City Council and Historic Scotland. (Report by Brian Ferguson in the Evening News.)


28 December 2004
Tories don't believe that Toll Zone is "Good for Business"
We reported on 23rd December what Shonaig Mcpherson had said in support of Edinburgh Toll Zone. We were not the only ones puzzled, as David McLetchi, leader of the Scottish Tories today writes:-  The Scotsman - Hear what the retailers say on road tolls

Tolls will save Edinburgh from Tumble Weeds????
Some restaurants and hotels want tolls. They say that Edinburgh will become a "Ghost Town" without Tolls. We had thought that tumble weeds blowing down the road was more likely with Tolls:-  Evening News - Witchery owner: Tolls are price worth paying


27 December 2004
Green complains about anti Toll campaign
A Green has reported West Lothian council to its auditors for spending money on campaigning against Edinburgh Toll Zone. We wonder how much has been spent by Edinburgh in its pro Toll campaign, which will effect those living outside Edinburgh, including West Lothian:-  Evening News - Anti-tolls campaign faces funding probe


23 December 2004
Edinburgh Tolls "Good for Business" or Will it Create "Additional Problems"?
Shonaig MacPherson, "vice-president of the British Chamber of Commerce", in the Scotsman says that the proposed Edinburgh "Congestion Charge" is "good business sense" and that "we need to impose a small penalty to force them to change their commuting habits".
She says that in London "accountancy firm KPMG ... saved 750,000 in taxi fares and waiting time", after London Toll Zone was introduced:-  The Scotsman - "Why congestion charging can be good for business"
We wonder how many people ride round in taxis (exempt from Toll Zone charges). We also note that the British Chamber of Commerce on 16th February 2004 issued a statement about the London experience which said:-
"..The much talked about congestion charge has made little impact in reducing the overall London congestion problems affecting business...The congestion charge itself has created additional problems for businesses within the zone which need to be responded to. A London Chamber survey found that a quarter of central zone retailers are considering moving elsewhere as a result of the charge. Congestion charging is not a silver bullet solution to the Capital's transport problems."  BCC - "London Congestion takes its toll on business "

More on Edinburgh Toll Poll "Shambles"
At Holyrood, the Scottish Tories have attacked the Toll Poll as biased and unfair. Their criticism was supported by MSPs from other parties including some Labour MSPs:-   The Scotsman - "Tories fail to persuade Executive to act on road charge poll "

Ken clams up
Ken Livingstone, London Mayor, says that he can't answer questions from the Evening News in Edinburgh because he was ""lawfully unable". Report from Brian Ferguson:-   Evening News - "Ken ducks road tolls quiz on legal advice"

Call for extended Toll Polls
There were calls today from David McLetchie for Mid Lothian and East Lothian to join West Lothian in holding their own Toll Polls on Edinburgh's plan for Toll Zone:-   Evening News - "Tory leader McLetchie in drive for more polls "


22 December 2004
Legal Challenge to Edinburgh Toll Zone
Midlothian Council are to mount a legal challenge to neighbouring Edinburgh's plans for a Toll Zone. They are upset because some people in Edinburgh living in areas that will be exempt will have a vote, while those outside who will be most affected have no vote. Report from Chros Mooney:-  Evening News - "City hit by legal fight on road toll poll plan"


21 December 2004
"Overwhelmingly positive reaction from the business community" to Edinburgh Tolls
Or at least there is according to those who are trying to sell the idea of tolls:-   Evening News - "Call for action before charge is levied"


20 December 2004
Edinburgh Toll Poll "Shambles"
Is there anyone outside the advocates of the Edinburgh Toll who believe that the Poll is fair? Helen Martin gives her opinion on the voting register problem:-   Evening News - "Tolls vote is well down road to chaos"


19 December 2004
Ken to Carry Tolls to Edinburgh
Ken Livingstone is to come to Edinburgh on 17th January to help sell the Edinburgh Toll. Report from Jeremy Watson:-   Scotland on Sunday - "Ken Livingstone to spell out capital gains"


18 December 2004
Edinburgh pulling the "wool over the eyes of the voters"
Edinburgh Pentlands MSP and Tory leader David McLetchie has initiated a debate on the biased Toll Poll issue in the Scottish Parliament and plans to accuse city council leaders of "trying to rig the referendum". Report from Ian Swanson:-   Evening News - "'Biased' road tolls vote set for Holyrood "


17 December 2004
Darling Backs Biased Toll Poll Question
Alistair Darling who is both Secretary of State for Scotland AND Secretary of State for Tranport for whole UK has "told" Edinburgh City Council that it must ensure that all people are registered for the Toll Poll.
Fair enough it seems, except that he has at the same time given his approval to a biased Toll Poll question and to a leaflet that the people have not yet seen, but which is widely expected to sell the Toll tax. Story from Brian Ferguson:-  Evening News - "Darling tells city to find the missing toll poll voters"


15 December 2004
60,000 may miss Edinburgh Toll Poll
Latest report on the Edinburgh Toll Poll debacle is from Chris Mooney. NAAT spokesman said - "If the council have something to sell and has faith in that product, everybody should be able to vote and both sides of the argument should have equal access to campaign money. At the moment, it's heavily loaded towards the council's side."   Evening News - "Thousands set to miss out on road-charging vote"


14 December 2004
London Toll Zone hits Business
London Businesses have been badly hit by the Toll Zone. A survey by the Forum of Private Business found around 90% of businesses reported a fall in profits, with a quarter of firms saying that profits had fallen 15 to 30%.:-  Evening News - "London firms hit by tolls "


13 December 2004
Pro Edinburgh Toll Groups Band Together
Groups who want tolls in Edinburgh have banded together in advance of February's Toll Poll. The eleven include Friends of the Earth Scotland, TRANSform Scotland; People and Planet; the Capital Rail Action Group, the Scottish Association for Public Transport; and Sustrans. Full report from Brian Ferguson:-  Evening News - "Tolls campaign to get the 'yes' vote moving"
(We don't disagree with encouraging people to walk, cycle or use buses, but any money needed for this should not come from the already overtaxed road users.)


10 December 2004
Councils Against Toll
Bet that headline shocked you! It's the Fife, Mid Lothian and West Lothian councils that object to Edinburgh's toll scheme:-  Scottish tv - "Councils unite against Edinburgh road toll proposals"

Edinburgh Toll Poll Is On
By one vote, Edinburgh Councillors voted to go ahead with their controversial Toll Poll. The postal ballot will run from 7-21 February 2005. Report from Alastair Dalton:-  Scotsman - "Legal battles threatened as vote on congestion charge goes ahead"
There was also an opinion piece in today's Scotsman which concluded "the ruling Labour group has not got close to persuading anyone but themselves that the city's car-owning council tax payers should stump up an extra 500 a year to fund their dream" (for transport improvements and trams):-  Taking toll on our city


8 December 2004
Car parking fees cut is not enough
We reported on the 22nd October that Toll advocate, David Begg, had said that car parking should be cheaper. Edinburgh Council now propose to do that. But Alistair Dalton reports in the Scotsman that the shops will continue to oppose Tolls:-  Edinburgh may cut parking fees by 25% to offset road tolls "

Who Pays the Ferryman?
Edinburgh want to use road tolls to subsidise a ferry service to Kirkcaldy:-  Evening News - "Congestion cash bid to fund ferry"


7 December 2004
Shops fight Edinburgh Toll
Shops are launching a campaign for a "NO" vote in the Toll Poll. See Chris Mooney's story:-  Evening News - "Shops wheel out new weapon against tolls"


6 December 2004
Row over Toll Poll
The Evening News reports complaint from Iain Whyte, the Edinburgh Tory group leader, that the Tories and Lib Dems had not been sufficiently consulted about the phrasing of the Toll Poll question.:-  Tories claim city leaders reneged on referendum question vow


5 December 2004
Legal threat to Edinburgh Toll
Joanne Robertson in the Sunday Times reports on possible legal Toll challenge from local councils:-  Edingburgh congestion charge faces legal threat


4 December 2004
More Anger over Edinburgh Toll Poll
Chris Mooney reports in the Evening News that people are angry about the proposed ballot question and the leaflet that will go out with it.
Lothians SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill said: "This is not North Korea, but this smacks of an oligarchy seeking to impose its will."
The response from the council is "The process has been carried out under the close supervision of a Queen's Counsel and complies with all relevant Scottish laws and the guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission. We are satisfied the information is balanced and impartial."
Anger as 'biased' road tolls ballot is slammed by critics


3 December 2004
Another Few More on Edinburgh Toll

1.Edinburgh is to press ahead with its plans for Tolls, and will ignore some of the findings from this summer's Inquiry, including advice to scrap plans to exempt some residents:-    Labour leadership vows to keep congestion charge exemption
2. Brian Ferguson reports in the Scotsman that Edinburgh people are to be given "propaganda leaflets" as part of the Poll on the Toll:-    Council's road toll is 'biased'
3. The Scotsman gives its Opinion on the Tolls:-    Still to be convinced

2 December 2004
Few More on Edinburgh Toll

1. Scottish TV today reports that the Ballot on Edinburgh Tolls will be on 7 February 2005. They say "a majority of the residents who spoke to Scotland Today this afternoon said they would not be backing it":-    Edinburgh congestion charge ballot for February
2. Stephen Jardine in today's Evening News complains about the amount of road works which are causing congestion just before ballot on the Toll and congratulates the Council on their genius.
3. In the Scotsman there is a report that one of Edinburgh's oldest stores, Aitken & Niven, may quit its city centre site. There are various reasons, but one is the Tolls.

1 December 2004
Some do love the Edinburgh Toll
We try to be unbiased (well a little bit of the time). So here's a report on support for the Edinburgh Toll scheme:-    Airport's chief backs road tolls


30 November 2004
Scotsman say "Edinburgh Tolls in Trouble"
An editorial in today's Scotsman casts doubt on the proposed tolls and concludes "The whole congestion charging scheme is looking more ill-judged by the day."
The editorial follows a report released yesterday which says that the proposed Toll will reduce retail sales by 7% on the days affected (Monday to Friday):-    BBC - "Traffic fee 'could hit profits'"  Evening News - "Retailers vow to up the ante in tolls fight"

36,000 Voters may miss Edinburgh Toll Poll
People who opted for their details to be confidential can't vote. Report by Brian Donnelly in Herald:-    Road toll vote may be denied to 36,000


29 November 2004
Report says Edinburgh Toll will hit Retailers
A new report says that the proposed Toll will reduce retail sales by 7% on the days affected (Monday to Friday):-    Traffic fee 'could hit profits'

London Shops hit by Toll Tax
The Evening News reports "The Federation of Small Businesses says 80 per cent of small firms have lost takings since congestion charging was introduced in London and 25 per cent have had to make staff redundant."    London trade 'has been hurt by charging'


23 November 2004
Edinburgh University backs Tolls
Further to the story on 17th November that Edinburgh students want tolls, the Scotsman today reported that the head of the University also wants them, as they will pay for the trams. Oddly another University officer apparently told the Tolls Inquiry that delivery cars and vans serving the University should be exempt from the tolls.
That's the ideal tax then. You know, the one that the other guy pays, but you get the benefits.
PS This appeared in the Scotsman on the 25th from Jenny Hjul:-     Hands up all the students who will do as their principal says


22 November 2004
"Lib Dems to mount anti-tolls campaign"
The Scotsman today reported that the Lib Dems are planning a campaign aginst the proposed Edinburgh tolls, which they say is "the wrong scheme at the wrong time". One Labour councillor said ""I'm still waiting for a good explanation as to why the Liberal Democrats nationally support congestion charging but Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh don't."
Perhaps the answer to the question is that politicians support the hated tolls when they are in power and get the proceeds or if they affect someone else.
The Scotsman also reported that the soldier who fires the one o'clock gun from Edinburgh Castle may give up his job because of the tolls:-    Tam the Gun's explosive outburst over road tolls


19 November 2004
Tolls help sell property (outside the toll area)
An Edinburgh property agent is selling an empty office block on the basis that tenants will be able to avoid the proposed road toll:-  Office uses toll position to sell itself
But one of the advocates of the toll says that businesses inside the toll area will get more customers because there will be less vehicles.


17 November 2004
Edinburgh Students want Tolls
It is reported in the Scotsman that at a meeting of student activists last night, 4 out of 5 wanted tolls. The students applauded Labour and the Greens, and criticised the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who oppose tolls for Edinburgh.
The students will be able to vote in the Tolls referendum.


12 November 2004
Cost of Tolls
The Evening News in Edinburgh has revealed that "More than 8 million of taxpayers' money will have been spent on Edinburgh's road toll proposals - before the public has a say on whether the controversial scheme should go ahead."  Road tolls will cost taxpayers 8m before vote
Edinburgh is only spending 8.8 million this year on maintaining all its roads etc. Would it not be better if more money was spent on roads rather than on tolls?


10 November 2004
Oh what a circus!
Boots have joined in complaints about the effect on shops of the proposed road tolls for Edinburgh:-  Road tolls will tighten supermarkets' grip


8 November 2004
Drivers Reject Tolls
We don't know if any will be surprised that 73% of Scottish drivers don't want tolls. Drivers reject tolls in poll
But what we don't understand is why it wasn't 100%!


4 November 2004
MSPs to avoid tolls
The Scotsman has discovered that there is a loophole in the proposed Edinburgh Tolls scheme so that those working at the Scottish Parliament won't have to pay. As the Evening News says "... it seems that insult has been added to injury, not only for those thousands of Edinburgh residents who now face paying to cross the outer cordon, but everyone else who would have to pay the congestion charge to enter the inner cordon - Scottish Parliament staff and MSPs will be exempt ... To ordinary people who face having to pay to drive into their own city centre ... this will seem like one rule for the privileged and another for them. It will reinforce the perception that the toll is another layer of taxation."
Fury as MSPs escape inner cordon charge

22 October 2004
Never mind the tolls - park for free!
David Begg, tolls advocate, has suggested that first hour of car parking should be free, in effect refunding the toll. Just a couple more steps, and we can scrap the toll altogether:-  Transport guru in call for free shop parking


21 October 2004
"Darling tells city to reject tolls findings"
No, Alistair has not been converted on the road to Edinburgh. He is worried that the tolls scheme as modified by the Scottish Executive reporters is even less likely to be backed by the people:-  Darling tells city to reject tolls findings
Today the Scotsman also had this piece on the tolls from Jenny Hjul:-  Why I don't take congestion as seriously as the council does


20 October 2004
Toll Warning
John Lewis warns of toll impact on Capital


19 October 2004
More on Edinburgh Tolls
There has been more time to chew on the Inquiry findings published yesterday. One of the changes required by the Scottish Executive is that buses and taxis will have to pay the toll. This plus the withdrawal of exemptions from some Edinburgh residents has increased doubts as to whether the Council can still sell their tolls plan. Here are 2 stories from The Scotsman:-  Congestion row sparks fares fears    And :-  Selling the poll story


18 October 2004
Edinburgh Tolls given official go ahead, now it's up to the people
The result was announced today of the long Inquiry during the summer into proposals to introduce "congestion charge" to Edinburgh. The Scottish Executive reporters approved the scheme except that they were not in favour of one of the proposed exemptions.
The tolls will affect a far wider area than Edinburgh, but it is now for the people of Edinburgh to vote on the scheme. The authorities may use their massive resources to try and ensure that they get a yes vote. Let us hope that the ordinary people are still heard.
Here is the story as per The Scotsman and the BBC. The contradictory headlines are a bit misleading :-  Edinburgh forced into road tolls U-turn
And :-  Road toll plan given green light


17 October 2004
Rich Scots want Tolls
Edinburgh Council faces large scale opposition from ordinary people to its plans for Tolls.
It has now surveyed 30 "business leaders" and most of them want Tolls:-  Capital given green light for road charging
Their enthusiasm for Tolls was despite the fact that it was expected there would be a drop in sales. We suppose that would be more than compensated by keeping the ordinary people off the roads.


10 October 2004
Scotland the Brave
Arguments continue over plans for a congestion charge in Edinburgh. The plans are backed by the majority party on Edinburgh Council and the anti roads lobby. But are opposed by almost everyone else, including the councils for East Lothian, Fife, Mid Lothian, and West Lothian.
Some critics have pointed out that congestion charging will displace traffic to other parts of the city and that rat-running will be commonplace.
It has also been said that businesses in the city will be "hammered" by shoppers flocking to out-of-town centres and Glasgow.
Before the plans can be implemented, there will have to be a referendum.
Now an Edinburgh community group organised by Kristina Woolnough have launched a website to combat the spin for the new road toll:-  Making contrasts


16 September 2004
Scottish Council against tolls
West Lothian Council is opposed to the proposed congestion scheme for Edinburgh and now plans its own referendum. Council leader Graeme Morrice said today: "We believe it is vitally important to let our own residents have their say about city road tolls. We believe that the proposed two-cordon scheme is an unfair tax on people living outside Edinburgh. In our view it is inequitable and flawed. "
Council takes poll position on road tolls


5 August 2004
Controversy continues over Edinburgh Congestion Charge
Yesterday the Scottish Economic Policy Network issued a report on the implication of the proposed congestion charging scheme for Edinburgh.
Summary Report     Full Report
The report does not come down against the scheme, but it warns of various problems if the scheme goes ahead. It says that shops and small businesses will be hit. And the report suggests that some way should be found of protecting the poor and low paid from the effects of the scheme.
There is a story on the report at the Scotsman:-:-  Road tolls will fail, says think-tank

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