National Alliance Against Tolls - Edinburgh Toll Poll "Yes" Claims

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"Yes" Claims:-

Congestion will be reduced.
Big profit to spend on public transport.
Less pollution.
Businesses won't be affected.
Congestion reduced?

"Yes" side say that there has been a 30% reduction in London congestion. Not many Londoners believe that traffic is moving 30% faster!
Latest  official report  says (page 19) "a slightly higher proportion say more time is spent travelling now than before the introduction of the charge".

The London experience is that the reduction in cars entering the zone has not made much difference to traffic speeds within the zone. Immediately before the charge it would have taken about 20 minutes during the day to travel a distance the width of the zone, it now takes 18 minutes 20 seconds. The reduction is small because there is an increase in buses and taxis and once you have paid the charge there is no disincentive to driving all day.

Edinburgh would have inner and outer cordons, so the situation will be more complex than London. There will probably be less traffic entering Edinburgh in the morning peak period, but the traffic that is already within Edinburgh may take long detours to avoid the inner cordon. At the Inquiry it was said that this will mean more traffic and a "Rat run" in the Edinburgh "doughnut" where most people live and schools are situated.

Big profit to spend on public transport?

The hopes that there will be big profits is a delusion.
Ken Livingstone said "Don't do it for the money" and is now going to increase the charge to 8 a day!

For the part year 2002/03 London expenditure was 77 million and income was 19 million giving a loss of 58 million.
In the full year 2003/04 the expenditure was 142 million and the income 187 million (from the 5 daily charge and whopping penalties), giving a profit of 45 million.
About 80 million of the income is estimated to be from penalties. This means that if you just take the 5 charge, the scheme must run at a loss. In Edinburgh the charge will be 2. How can they make a profit?
The people of Edinburgh might as well just shred the hundreds of pounds a year that each driver will pay.

Less pollution?

London Air Quality has reduced since the charge was introduced, and Edinburgh has better Air Quality than London. See the latest  official report  and paragraphs 12 to 17 of   our review .
The reduction in London Air Quality may not be due to the charge, but there is no evidence that the charge has reduced pollution.

Edinburgh's Air Quality Action Plan says that current Air Quality is not a health problem and Air Quality will improve even if "nothing is done"  Action Plan Summary  ("Impact on Health" on page 1, and "Cleaner Road Vehicles" on page 10).

Edinburgh City Council admit that the worst pollution comes from buses, taxis and goods vehicles, (page 3 of the Action Plan).
Buses and taxis are exempt from the Toll. The goods carriers will still have to do their job, so if they avoid the city centre, they will move the pollution into the areas where most people live and schools are.

Businesses won't be affected?

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry have just published their  Report on Third Survey of the effect of the charge on the Retail Sector . It makes gloomy reading. The Executive Summary on page 5 includes:- 63% of respondents reporting a fall in customer numbers since the charge was introduced,
37% of retailers reducing their staffing,
33% considering relocating to a site outside of the charging zone,
28% considering closing their business.
There have been other surveys including one for the Forum of Private Business, reported on the 12th January in the Evening News
Bill Anderson from the FPB in Scotland said:- "London charging is now well-established and our survey shows that it is having a 'devastating' impact on small businesses in London. 73% of our members in Edinburgh are against a Toll here."

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