National Alliance Against Tolls - Message to Renfrewshire and West Dunbarton councillors - mid February 2006

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Message to Renfrewshire and West Dunbarton councillors - mid February 2006

Dear Councillor,

This message is going to you and some of the other councillors. As you be well aware the Executive has been reviewing the bridge tolls. The results of that review are long overdue, though as an interim step the Executive removed the Skye bridge toll in December 2004.

There are three remaining tolls (Erskine, Forth and Tay). The Forth toll is due to end on the 31st March, and Erskine on the 1st July, but as you know, the life of the tolls has been extended several times. In 2001 the MSPs went so far as legislating to retrospectively reintroduce the Erskine tolls, which it was said had only ended due to an "oversight". A bit like a prisoner who after they have reached the end of their sentence are told that it was mistake they were released as the authorities are just about to pass a law increasing the punishment.

You will have seen that the tolls issue played a major part in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election. There was a largely successful attempt to hide from the voters that the tolls are due to end there in about six weeks. The voters were instead given lots of "promises" about no toll increases, new bridges, and "working towards the removal of the tolls". The voters were so confused that they unknowingly voted for the party which most wants to keep and increase the tolls - At the last meeting of the bridge authority it was decided to ask the Minister to introduce a "road user charging" scheme" with tolls of up to 4 - Two out of the three Lib Dem members voted for this.

It is likely that the Lib Dem Transport Minister (who was invisible during the by-election) will within the next 10 days announce that the tolls on the Forth road bridge will not end on the 31st March, and that he will extend them to eventually be replaced by a "road user charging scheme". We also expect that just before the Easter holiday, the Minister will announce the result of the Tolled bridges review. There are of course rumours that Jack McConnell has promised that the Erskine bridge tolls will go. We hope that these rumours are true, and that any promise is different from those that were made during the by-election. We hope that, but we fear that if they are going to keep the Forth tolls, they will keep all three tolls.

We are contacting you now as individual councillors to ask you to lobby MSPs. The local MSPs are of course already seeking an end to the tolls, but there are many other MSPs who are not interested in the removal of the tolls and may even wish to keep them.

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