National Alliance Against Tolls - Scotland Tolls 2005
SCOTLAND NEWS 2005
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Scotland News 2006 Scotland News 2004 Edinburgh News to May 2005 - including the Toll Poll
27 December 2005
Forth Bridge Traffic
The Evening News reports on falling traffic on the Forth road bridge."Drivers cross off Road Bridge". The report quotes one of our spokesman - John McGoldrick - as saying that the toll increase earlier this year had "discouraged people from using the bridge". On the contrary, the toll increase, as expected, had almost no effect, as people who use the bridge have little choice. Traffic is down on two years ago. The reason for this is a mystery. But whatever it is, tolls have almost no effect unless there is a choice of route or destination.
sign our petition against Scotland's tolls.
22 December 2005
Erskine Bridge Loss?
The Evening Times reports that the Erskine bridge made a small loss in the year 2004/05. Unfortunately the published accounts are not yet available. It will be interesting to see what the acounts show. We are also curious as to why in 2004 the Ministers instructed that the accounts be prepared on a new basis.
21 December 2005
Happy Birthday Skye
A year ago the people of Skye woke up to discover that the despised tolls had gone overnight (see December 2004 News). To mark the anniversary we issued a press release. Here is part of it:-
WILL 2006, bring joy or grief to those campaigning for an end to the nations' road tolls?
Tolls on the Bridge to Skye ended a year ago today. It was the first significant stopping of tolls in Britain since the Second World War. Though the fight on Skye is not completely over, as over 100 islanders were left with unjust criminal records.
Scotland used to have many tolls, but most only survive as part of the name of a street or district. There are only three real tolls left - the Clyde at Erskine, the Forth and the Tay.
The Executive has been carrying out a review of tolls for the last two years. Though they removed the Skye Bridge toll, they seem to be determined to keep the remaining tolls.
Two of the tolls are soon due to end anyway (Forth at the end of March, Erskine on the 1st July), but it is expected that the minister, Tavish Scott, will make orders to extend them.
The tolls are long past their sell by date and we have petitioned the politicians to end all the tolls. sign our petition.
19 December 2005
Petition Fast Work
The petition that we submitted to MSPs has so far not been mentioned by the news media in Scotland. Oddly tonight there is news of another petition to MSPs against tolls. Even odder, so far the petition is not on the list of submitted petitions:- Evening Times - "Petition calls for end to tolls on bridge". our petition
18 December 2005
Petition Against Tolls
We sent out a press release out about our petition to the Scottish Parliament to end all tolls in Scotland:- Transport News Network
Click here to see and sign the petition
16 December 2005
Petition Against Tolls
We have today petitioned the Scottish Parliament to end all tolls in Scotland:- Petition.
Petition for new Forth road bridge
A petition calling for a new Forth road bridge has been made to the Parliament at Holyrood:- BBC - "'Build new Forth bridge' campaign". It is suggested that a new bridge is needed because either the existing bridge will have to be closed due to corrosion or
to cope with increasing traffic. Published traffic figures (northbound for January to October) show that it was actually less in 2005 (10,016,000) than it was in 2003 (10,095,00). There are various ways in which traffic flow can be improved such as removing toll collection, tidal flow in peak periods (as used on the Golden Gate bridge and some English crossings), and improving approaches. There are also various carrots that can be used to encourage car sharing etc, without the need for the stick of tolls.
15 December 2005
Scotland backs French Toll roads
Bloomberg reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland is helping to finance France's toll roads sale, which is expected to fetch 21 billion euros (15 billion pounds or 25 billion dollars):- "Royal Bank of Scotland Wins All Three French Toll Road Loans".
14 December 2005
Tonight's Evening News reports a call for a Poll before there is any increase in tolls on the Forth Road bridge:- "Ministers under pressure to hold poll on bridge toll hike".
A Poll is a lot better than nothing, but as the Tolls should end by the end of March, why are the politicians not calling for the tolls to be scrapped now?
12 December 2005
The Evening News tonight reports on car sharing service for those crossing the Forth Road bridge:- Travelshare.
We don't know why this is being promoted for that bridge now. But whatever the motive, car sharing is in principle a good idea:- Travelshare main site
10 December 2005
More MSPS protest against Forth Tolls
Report from tonight's Evening News:- "MSP slams toll plan as 'back door congestion charge'".
From yesterday's Courier and Dunfermline Press (pdf file).
7 December 2005
MSPS back trams and congestion
Edinburgh politicians want trams, but they need the approval of MSPs together with an amount of money which could eventually reach 800 million pounds (950 million dollars). Originally they planned that part of this would come from tolls (rejected by the people in February), now it will all come from taxes. The MSPs today gave further approval even though they accepted that it would create "traffic snarl ups" Evening News - "City's tram route gets green light from MSPs".
6 December 2005
There have been a lot of letters in the Scottish papers about the threat of increased tolls on the Forth road bridge and the tales that it is about to fall down. Here is one letter from the Courier that puts two and two together:- "Maintenance questions" (3rd letter).
5 December 2005
Forth Tolls Motion
Bruce Crawford, Scottish Nationalist MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, on the 30 November lodged this motion at Holyrood:- "S2M-3660 : Forth Road Bridge Tolls- That the Parliament believes that there should be a thorough and wide-ranging consultation process on the issue of the future of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge; considers that this consultation process should not commence until the Tolled Bridges Review is completed in order for the Scottish Executive's position on the Forth Road Bridge tolls to be set in the national context, and is disappointed at media reports that the Minister for Transport and Telecommunications appears to have pre-empted any real or meaningful consultation process by backing toll levels up to £4.". So far it has been signed by 18 MSPs:- 14 from SNP, 3 Scottish Socialists and one Independent - Jean Turner.
3 December 2005
Forth Tolls Reaction
The proposal for £4 ($7) tolls on the Forth Road bridge has stirred up some reaction. Here is a selection:-
26 November - Courier - "Fife fury as £4 toll move is approved".
29 November - Courier - "MSP in "hypocrisy" row over bridge tolls".
30 November - In Courier , Angus Ramsay from Rosyth, said "bridge tolls should be scrapped altogether and the collectors employed on a reintroduced ferry service for heavy vehicles". John Hoodless, also from Rosyth said "there should be no concessions given to MPs or MSPs and councillors who seem to have to travel back and 'Forth' across the bridge at no expense to themselves".
1 December - The Dunfermline Press covered the story over several pages headlined:- "Fife's Commuters face £4 Clobbering". There was also:- Courier - "Provost slated over £4 toll" Courier letters (first three).
3 December. This beats them all! The Edinburgh councillor who used his casting vote in favour of £4 tolls admits that tolls cause congestion. He says in a letter to the Courier that "Southbound tolls on the Edinburgh side would result in queuing on the bridge" (third letter)
This is what George Campbell, the "Lone Protestor" said in a letter to the Courier last month:-
"Sir,-There have been many reports about the need for a new bridge over the Firth of Forth. We do not know whether after independent investigation, it will be confirmed that a new bridge is needed. What we do know for sure is we don't want tolls.
The Scottish Executive is now near the end of a tolled bridges review that has dragged on for years.
The existing power to toll the Forth Road Bridge expires in March 2006. We are concerned that calls for a new bridge over the Forth do little except distract attention away from the tolls.
The authorities seem to think they have already won, as they are spending millions of pounds on new tollbooths and have said they want toll increases of up to £4. This utter contempt towards motorists should not be tolerated, and I call on local MSPs in particular and MSPs in general to lobby the First Minister to abolish tolls immediately.
Road users currently contribute £50 billion in taxes per year to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Gordon Brown) -another Fifer, who could quite easily support this plea to have tolls abolished.
Anyone interested in helping in the campaign against the Forth and Tay tolls in any way can contact me at my home address or Email me at: NAAT in Scotland
334 Dunecht Court,
Forth Bridge Falling Down
On the 22nd November, Tim Crumley had an interesting article in the Courier and Advertiser. He is suspicious of the reason for the scare stories about the bridge. He also suggests that if the volume of traffic crossing the bridge is a problem, then "selective tolls will not make the slightest difference". He suggests 4 alternatives:- more trains, ferry service from Rosyth to Leith, bridge at Kincardine, and more jobs based north of the Forth. first part second part
Few politicians in Fife say that they are in favour of tolls. There is one notable exception, a Tory councillor who bombards the press arguing in favour of tolls. He had a letter in the Dunfermline Press on the 24 November praising Margaret Thatcher for using tolls to "deliver" the Dartford, Severn and Skye crossings and the M6 Toll road. We would quite happily give Margaret the "credit", but to be fair to her the first two of the three Dartford crossings and the first of the two Severn crossings are before her time.
It is true that she probably deserves all the "credit" for the Skye toll deal, and the people there, particularly those that were gaoled, would probably welcome the Councillor who supports tolls in an appropriate way.
PS The councillor got some reaction in the Dunfermline Free Press on 1 December. Veteran anti toll camapigner, Robbie the Pict, pointed out that money was "washed away at vicious hire purchase rates" paid to Bank of America etc. He also reiterated that tolls in Kingdom of Scotland had been unlawful under Section 33 of the Roads and Bridges Scotland Act of 1878. Mike Arthur of Dalgety Bay highlighted that tolls were very expensive and inefficient compared with fuel duty.
2 December 2005
Will he or Won't he?
Yesterday in the Scotsman, Alistair Dalton reported that Tavish Scott, the Transport Minister, was backing £4 ($7) tolls on the Forth Road bridge. Today Alan Roden in the Evening News reports that a Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "The minister did not, and has not, indicated that he supports the £4 highest-level charge that FETA have recommended." "Ministers 'won't back' £4 tolls".
How bizarre. Have they got scared? The solution is simple - scrap the tolls by the end of March as the current law says.
1 December 2005
When will Minister reveal all?
In the Scotsman, Alistair Dalton reports that Tavish Scott, the Transport Minister, is backing £4 ($7) tolls on the Forth Road bridge. The Minister is currently supposed to be reviewing the tolls, and many organisations have said that the tolls should go. When will the Minister officially tell us that he will be ignoring the people? "Executive to back £4 road bridge toll".
30 November 2005
Another bizarre tale from the authorities that run the Forth road bridge. The tolls are due to end next March, but they are spending millions on new toll booths, are bringing in plans for toll increases and now reveal plans for a "Cyclops" system that can distinguish human skin and will check up on how many people are in each car:- Scotsman - "Infrared cameras will see through Forth Road Bridge dummy runs". Why are the authority so determined to hang on to tolls that they seem to have entered a fantasy world?
26 November 2005
A report from Alan Roden says that "Motorists will be able to pay for tolls at the Forth Road Bridge with credit cards or through online accounts from next summer.":- Evening News - "Electronic tolling on cards for road bridge". Under the existing law, tolls are due to end on the 31st March 2006, unless MSPs agree otherwise. So why are the authorities spending seven million pounds on new tolling equipment? Did they all get into a time machine and travel forward to see what the decision of MSPs would be?
Forth Bridge Falling Down again and again and again
Alastair Dalton, Transport correspondent for the Scotsman, reports another twist on possible bridge problems - it "will have to close for up to three years for replacement of its main cables if work to halt their corrosion fails":- "Bridge faces three-year shutdown"
It is amazing all the publicity that the authorities have generated on this - Is it a coincidence that the tolls are due to stop at the end of March?
This is the report that the bridge authority considered yesterday on cable corrosion
25 November 2005
Forth Bridge Toll Increase
The authority that runs the Forth road bridge met this morning. They narrowly approved a proposal to increase tolls to up to four pounds:- BBC - "Bridge board backs £4 toll plan" Times - "Forth bridge operators back £4 toll amid fears over safety"
The BBC have revised the story, it originally quoted the bridge authority saying that- "We had 8% growth in traffic across the bridge last month compared to a year ago." What they don't say is that the traffic in October 2004 was over 8% down on October 2003. So by our arithmetic, the traffic in October 2005 was actually down on October 2003
They also quoted Transport Minister Tavish Scott saying that there is congestion on the bridge. We agree, but the answer is not more tolls. It is to:-
Remove tolls, and remove any delays caused by queuing to pay
Improve the approaches
Bring in tidal flow in peak periods, as is done at the Golden Gate bridge and at least 3 other British crossings
Improve other crossings - the already agreed second bridge at Kincardine is a step towards this
24 November 2005
Forth Bridge Toll Fight
Alan Roden reports on our campaign in Scotland against the Forth road bridge tolls:- Evening News - "Fight against £4 toll gathers speed"
23 November 2005
Good Reasons for No Tolls
Steve Bargeton in the Courier "Peak time bridge toll of £4 set to go ahead" reports on a meeting this Friday of the authority that runs the Forth road bridge. The tolls are due to end next March, but the authority wants to extend them and then replace them with a "road users charging scheme" including tolls of up to four pounds (seven dollars). Scottish Nationalist MSP, Bruce Crawford gave "three good reasons" why the road charging plans should be rejected:-
"One: how can they say to their customers they should pay more when the service they are getting is worse with repairs and delays?
Two: if the rumours are true, they are about to lift the tolls on the Erskine bridge at a time when they are being asked to hike the tolls on the Forth bridge.
Three: there are no real alternatives for hard-pressed commuters using the Forth bridge.No matter how many buses, trains or ferries they put on, most people have to use the bridge to get to work and back."
Also in the Courier, Tom Minogue of NAAT Scotland had this letter:-
"Sir,-At the recent Scottish Parliamentary debate on the need for a new bridge, all of the elected representatives for the most affected areas (Fife and Tayside) had much to say about the need for a new bridge (which is not a proven case), but without exception, the same MSPs had nothing to say about the unfair and possibly illegal tolls currently charged on the Forth Road Bridge or the obscene proposal that £4 be charged in the future.
One of your correspondents, George Campbell (Letters, November 17), calls on local MSPs to lobby the First Minister with a view to abolishing tolls immediately. These are admirable aims but there has been little or no sign that our MSPs have any stomach for this fight.
Thankfully, the public will have the opportunity to oppose the iniquitous proposal of a £4 toll, and if the elected representatives do not do the same the public have the opportunity to punish them for their lack of principle and action come the next election."
The people of Edinburgh are still annoyed over the attempt to foist tolls on them, and the traffic problems caused by "tinkering of anti-car zealots within the council". The reversal of some of these policies has eased the traffic and parking problesms, but it may be too late for shops in the centre of Edinburgh:- Evening News - "'This year's disaster could spell the end for some businesses'".
22 November 2005
Yesterday, people wrote to BBC Scotland about worst traffic spots, including these on the Forth bridge:-
Ken from Dunfermline - "The A8000, between the M9 and the Forth Road Bridge, has to rank pretty high in any table-of-shame. For years, the petty squabling between local and national politicians has resulted in huge tailbacks in both directions. At least work has now started on extending the M9 spur, but that's no thanks to our elected representatives."
Sandy from Thurso - "What about the stretch of road from the Forth Bridge to the M8 - what a nightmare."
Paul from Near Dunfermline - "Worst bottle neck road in Scotland has to be the A8000 from the Forth Road Bridge to the M9 Spur. This is the reason that the bridge is so overloaded with the amount of traffic sitting on it waiting to turn left onto the A8000."
Martin from South Queensferry - "Having lived next to the Forth Road Bridge for the past 15 years, this has to be one of worst congestion hotspots in Scotland. If there is any sort of incident on it the whole of Queensferry comes to a standstill. We also now have to put up with the almost annual routine of summer weekend roadworks, which results in around 16 weekends of contra-flows on the bridge each year. This results in delays on all approaches to Queensferry of up to 2 hours. Last year it was cable inspection, the year before that it was resurfacing, and there is further work planned for 2006. There have been contra-flows every night since March for the erection of a protective canopy for painting of the towers, and these will continue until April 2006. The sooner it has to be closed down due the corrosion, the better!"
(The roads that cause a lot of the problems should be trunk roads and should have been dealt with many years ago. But when there are tolls around, the authorities won't do anything. The work is now going ahead but a large part, possibly all, of the cost will come from bridge tolls.)
21 November 2005
Nine Million Pounds for Tolls Poll
Alan Roden in the Evening News using the Freedom of Information Act has uncovered that Edinburgh's abortive attempt to introduce Tolls cost the taxpayers £9 million. (Publicity campaign cost £1.5million, Staff pay cost £0.8 million, Poll cost £0.5 million, Legal costs £1.2 million, Technical costs £2.1 million, and "Other costs" £2.9 million.)
The waste was condemned by Scottish Socialists, SNP and the Tories:- "Road tolls sent £9m of our cash down drain". But the Labour leader said that "For every pound spent on congestion charging, we have secured over £100 for transport improvements. If the council had not .. (pursued) congestion charging the city would not have been rewarded with such money." Is this an indication of what will happen with Darling's Shilling? Will local authorities in England be rewarded for just saying that they will have tolls, though everyone knows that they are not wanted, not economic and just shunt traffic round.
PS The Evening News also reports that the Scottish Executive are hiring MORI to see why the Toll Poll went "wrong". Does this mean they plan to try another con trick? "Study to lift the lid on referendum defeat"
20 November 2005
Today, there is another report on how the people of Edinburgh seem to be being punished for voting "No" to tolls. This report is from Murdo Macleod:- Scotland on Sunday -"Roadworks all the rage in Edinburgh". Edinburgh is not unique, there are reports from all over Britain of roadworks that cause congestion both during the work and after. In most cases this is presumably not the intention, but what does seem clear is that they are doing little or nothing to improve traffic flow.
18 November 2005
Forth bridge is still falling down
We are not sure whether the authorities are coming up with fresh stories about the bridge falling down and toll increases, or their fax machine is stuck on send, anyway there is another batch of stories:-
Scotsman - "Bridge repairs 'will cause two years' chaos"
Daily Record - "£4 Road Bridge"
BBC - "Forth Road Bridge closure warning". The BBC report includes our reaction:- "The suggestion that the bridge must be replaced is premature. What is needed is more evidence from tests, followed by an independent assessment."
16 November 2005
Tolls councillor broke rules
We reported in our Edinburgh News on 16th February that an Edinburgh councillor had been "exonerated" after she used council facilities in an effort to get people to vote "Yes" to tolls. The Standards Commission has now ruled differently:- Evening News -"City chief broke rules with road tolls mailshot"
14 November 2005
Forth bridge is falling down again and again, But tolls are going up
We reported on the 2nd and the 8th on the stories that the Forth road bridge is "falling down". In the last week there has been a fresh (should that be recycled?) gust of stories. There seems to be nothing new about these stories. We hope that they don't divert attention from real and immediate issue of the Tolls.
Lib Dem MSP from Edinburgh says a new bridge is not needed, but their view is drowned under flood of later stories - Evening News on the 7th - "MSP urges caution on a second road bridge" .
Scottish Transport Minister calls for an "independent" report on corrosion of bridge cables. While there are "warnings" that lorries may have to be banned from the bridge in 2013 - BBC on the 10th - "Probe into bridge cable corrosion" Scotsman on the 10th - "Bridge corrosion probe ordered" Daily Record on the 11th - "Bridge Lorry Ban Warning" Scotsman on the 11th - "Cable damage sparks call to speed up new Forth bridge" Courier on the 11th - "Chaos fears as bridge lifespan put at 10 years" The Herald on the 11th - "Corrosion could close Forth bridge to heavy vehicles" Evening News on the 11th - "Minister says no decision on road bridge" Evening Times on the 11th - "Lorries face ban from Forth Road Bridge".
Just in case you are not worried about this, they have now upped the ante - they say that the bridge will be closed to cars by 2019 - Scotsman on the 12th - "Forth bridge closed to cars by 2019". Why not 2018 or 2020 or next week? Will they keep it open for cyclists? We wonder why the international bridge expert who said that "the problem should not be exaggerated" prefers to be anonymous. This report names two of the "first bridges in the world being considered for new main cables - the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in New York City and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia". The Bronx bridge opened in 1939 and the Philadelphia in 1926. The Forth opened in 1964. If the stories are true, the Forth road bridge will hold a recaord as one of the shortest lived bridges ever - why?
And just to give everyone a good laugh, after telling us the bridge is falling down, they want to increase the tolls - Evening News on the 12th - "£4 bridge toll a step closer".
It doesn't end there. High winds caused problems on the bridge on Friday night, and north bound traffic was stopped for 9 hours after signs and rubbish from a contractor's site blew on to the carriageway - Evening News on the 12th - "Travel chaos as gales close Forth crossing".
13 November 2005
Oh dear, this is another fine mess we've got us into - part two
Jenny Hjul comments on the damage that has been done to Edinburgh by the anti car fanatics. Jenny says they are "disciples of David Begg, a former Edinburgh Labour councillor and the original anti-car zealot who masterminded the first road closures in the city and whose sole aim is to inconvenience drivers". We have some sympathies with those who think that there is too much traffic, but their solutions are the equivalent of treating someone with a twisted ankle by breaking the other leg to encourage them not to move. Jenny says that David told the Greens that those who opposed their ideas were "sexually inadequate". Fortunately we don't know what he calls those who oppose tolls:- Sunday Times -"Edinburgh is still on the road to insanity" (two pages)
Oh dear, this is another fine mess we've got us into - part three
Magnus Linklater also comments on the near disaster to Scotland's capital caused by the fanatics who have succeded in bringing traffic to a halt and who wanted to build a toll wall round the city:- Scotland on Sunday -"Linklater's Scotland"
8 November 2005
Forth bridge is falling down again
Last week there was a debate at Holyrood where various MSPs pressed for a new Forth bridge:- Steve Bargeton in Courier - "MSPs clamour for new bridge action plan now" Evening News - "Build a new bridge or drivers face end of the road say MSPs". There was only one MSP -David Davidson from North East Scotland - who mentioned tolls. He said if a bridge was needed "tolls will not give us the answer".
There is a strange situation at the moment. We think that the call for a new bridge is being raised to divert attention away from the tolls issue. But the ones who are most opposed to a new road bridge are also the ones who want to keep tolls!
One of those who seems to be keen to keep tolls, is a Tory Fife councillor who has had many letters in the local press. Perhaps he doesn't want Fifers to escape the Kingdom. In a recent letter he said that when we had reported that Fife Council had backed the removal of tolls, this was "just typical New Labour spin". Let's hope that this reaches the real spin doctors, perhaps Alistair Darling, wearing both his Scotland and Transport hats, will stand up and shout "No Tolls!".
6 November 2005
Scot the Brave
It is reported that Scottish exile in London - Tom Conti - has stepped up his campaign against the Con charge by "urging Londoners to follow his lead and refuse to pay the levy". If this is true, he is a brave man - look what they did to Sir Edward Wallace 700 years ago!
3 November 2005
Oh dear, this is another fine mess we've got us into
Stephen Jardine walks round the centre of Edinburgh with the transport boss. He has two "credits" to his name, the rejected Tolls scheme, and the no road "system":- Evening News -"Rumble in the New Town no-one wins"
2 November 2005
Forth bridge is falling down, falling down
The authorities are so desperate to keep tolls in Scotland, that they are saying that the Forth Road bridge needs to be replaced because of "irreversible corrosion":- Courier -" Fears time running out for road bridge" Evening News - "MSPs step up pressure for second road bridge"
We are not in a position to say whether a new bridge will be needed, and if so when. There needs to be an independent assessment of these claims. But in the meantime the existing tolled bridges should be taken over by the Executive
as untolled trunk roads. Scare stories about a new bridge distract from the real and immediate issue - the question of tolls, which are under review and are due to end on the Forth bridge by the 31st March and on the Erskine bridge by the 1st July. All they want is more silver and gold and that ain't fair.
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, Falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.
Take a key and lock her up,
Lock her up, Lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up,
My fair lady.
How will we build it up,
Build it up, Build it up?
How will we build it up,
My fair lady?
Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, Silver and gold.
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair lady.
Gold and silver I have none,
I have none, I have none.
Gold and silver I have none,
My fair lady.
Build it up with needles and pins,
Needles and pins, Needles and pins.
Build it up with needles and pins,
My fair lady.
Pins and needles bend and break,
Bend and break, Bend and break.
Pins and needles bend and break,
My fair lady.
Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, Wood and clay.
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair lady.
Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, Wash away.
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair lady.
Build it up with stone so strong,
Stone so strong, Stone so strong.
Build it up with stone so strong,
My fair lady.
Stone so strong will last so long,
Last so long, Last so long.
Stone so strong will last so long,
My fair lady.
31 October 2005
Edinburgh tells the World that it still plans a Con charge
Edinburgh's Deputy Provost recently left the council's ruling Labour group and joined the SNP. He gave various reasons including (Evening News on 25th October):- "I'm not at all convinced that Edinburgh has got the acute traffic congestion problems that our officials believe we have." We were therefore a bit surprised to see today:- Taipei Times - "City leaders talk health", that he told the International Healthy Cities conference in Taiwan that "the city is planning a "congestion-charge policy," which would require vehicles crossing the central area of the city to pay a fee per day", and that though "it may take years before citizens understand the benefits of the policy, efforts to carry out the plan, as well as other measures such as park-and-ride schemes, will continue."
20 October 2005
Erskine Bridge rumour - false
Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, today visited Clydebank. There were rumours that he was about to announce that tolls are to go from Erskine bridge. But despite strong canvassing from the local councils and MSPs (including Jackie Baillie, Des McNulty and Trish Godman), it looks as if for the moment Jack doesn't want to let these grossly unfair tolls free from the Executive's clutches. Evening Times - "Campaigners tell First Minister to ditch Erskine tolls".
19 October 2005
MSPs urged to stop Tolls
We are urging MSPs to make sure that Scotland's three remaining tolls are removed, and have sent a dossier to interested MSPs (pdf file).
Tolls on two of the bridges were originally due to run out over 10 years ago (Erskine Bridge in 1991, and the Forth Bridge in 1995) but politicians just keep on moving the goal posts to keep their cash cow and punish drivers. Tolls are due to stop next year (Erskine Bridge on 1 July, and the Forth Bridge on 31 March), but it is clear that the authorities want to keep them. The tolls income is about £21 million, (Erskine £5m, Forth £12m, Tay £4m). This is a great deal of money to the few who carry the burden, but it is small change compared with the Executive's budget of £27 billion for 2005/06, or it's budget underspending of £280 million last year, or the £4 to 5 billion which is Scotland's share of UK taxes on roads users. Evening News - "Campaigners in new drive against tolls".
15 October 2005
The Daily Record reports that Edinburgh's anti car measures have gone so far, that even the perpetrators have started to lose the plot:- "I DON'T KNOW WHERE WE'RE GOING".
| "I know where I'm going,
I know who's going with me,
The Lord knows who I love,
But the de'il knows who I'll marry."|
Unfortunately the politicians in Edinburgh are far from unique. Authorities all around Britain seem to be trying to bring us all to a complete stop.
14 October 2005
Illegal Skye Tolls
Robbie the Pict is continuing his campaign to have criminal convictions quashed. Using the Freedom of Information Act Scotland, which recently came into force, Robbie discovered that the licence to operate the Skye bridge tolls was never signed or dated. Bizarrely despite the lack of any legal authority to collect tolls, the Scottish Executive and some lawyers say that it makes no difference to the criminal convictions for saying that you would not pay. BBC - "Skye Bridge tolls 'not mentioned'".
More go over the sea to Skye
There is also a report today on the increased number of vistors to the Isleof Skye following the lifting of the tolls at the end of 2004. The number of vehicles going to the island has increased from 2,800 to 3,800 a day Scotsman - "More drivers go over for free to Skye".
11 October 2005
Campaigner Against Toll to stand for Edinburgh City Council
The Evening News reports that community activist Tina Woolnough is to stand as an independent in a by-election for the Murrayfield ward. Tina played a major part in the Edinburgh Toll Poll, but has other concerns. She says that the political parties are failing and she is standing to give people a non-party alternative.
Xmas crumb for businesses from Edinburgh City Council
The Evening News reminded people only yesterday that Edinburgh City Council is destroying the city with its anti car measures. Well it seems from today's report that they have relented - a little - by relaxing some of the parking restrictions on the run up to Xmas:- "For once the council has asked businesses what they wanted".
10 October 2005
Edinburgh city centre is "a no-go area for drivers"
Before the Edinburgh Toll Poll, many people thought that the council had for several years been responsible for the very congestion that they complained about. Since they lost the Toll Poll there have been various reports that they aim to punish the people, the latest is in tonight's Evening News:- "It is beyond question that the centre is a no-go area for drivers - once a motorist has fought his or her way around roadworks, blocked roads and confusing directions, a hefty parking charge and hawk-eyed warden await.
The fact remains that for many people it is simply not worth the hassle and expense of driving into town. Now that might be a good thing in some respects - certainly not for traders - but the council can no longer base any spending plan on fines and parking fees. If they plan for the eradication of the car, then they must plan for the eradication of the cash. "
1 October 2005
"FETA should guard our money as zealously"
Following yesterday's ambulance incident, Tom Minogue had this letter in today's Courier:-
"Sir,-Three articles concerning money struck me in yesterday's Courier. The first revealed that cash-strapped Fife Council will have to cut £46 million from its budget (no prizes for guessing who will suffer).
The second offers some relief for Fife Council in that FETA (who own and operate the Forth Road Bridge) are contributing £800,000 of toll-payers' money to subsidise the Rosyth Link Road project. Their largesse with toll-payers' money will be welcomed by Fife Council's chief executive, but can it be legal, or fair, to expect bridge users from outwith Fife to subsidise the council's budget this way?
The third article concerned a paramedic in his 'ambulance' who had just returned from an emergency 999 call but was held up for half an hour by jobsworth FETA personnel who engaged in hair-splitting by arguing his vehicle could not be classed as an ambulance as it was not capable of carrying patients and was not attending an emergency but returning from one, and demanding he pay the £1, toll, which he did not have.
If FETA (with £17 million in the bank) were as scrupulous in stewarding the toll-payers' millions as they are in penny-pinching at the toll booths we would be well served!"
30 September 2005
Ambulance Toll Row
A Scottish Ambulance Service vehicle was held up for half an hour at the Forth Bridge toll booth due to a disputed toll:- Evening News - "Outrage as paramedics held up at Forth Road Bridge toll booth"
We issued this comment "Tolls are archaic and hold up all vehicles. The Scottish Executive is currently reviewing all of Scotland's remaining tolls (Erskine, Forth and Tay), it should not be tinkering with the rules but completely scrapping tolls to the benefit of all in Scotland."
28 September 2005
"Forget Politics - Concentrate on Bridge"
This letter from Tom Minogue was published last week in the Courier:-
Sir,-Am I alone in thinking that the Forth Road Bridge bridgemaster is taking an overly political role? The latest statement in support of a second, multi-modal, Forth Road Bridge is but the latest in a long list of political and often contradictory statements.
To justify the recent 20 pence increase in tolls they argued that the money was needed for a 14-year maintenance programme to ensure the bridge would be good for another 40 years.
No sooner had this increase been granted than they were claiming that the bridge might not last another 10 years and opining that a new crossing was needed. All the while they are politicking the queues grow due to unnecessary traffic restrictions for advertising stunts and badly planned maintenance.
The thought of handing a one billion pound budget for a new bridge to FETA under its present management structure fills me with horror. Think Scottish Parliament then some!
26 September 2005
"City leaders' vengeful tactics driving us mad"
John Gibson in tonight's Evening News accuses Edinburgh Council of seeking vengeance on its people for voting against the toll.
21 September 2005
Greens "No Go" for Forth bridge
Green, Mark Ballard, today argues against any need for a new Forth road bridge. His solution to this perceived problem is to stop people using the existing bridge :- Evening News - "Cross with care and one bridge is plenty"
There are insufficient public and unbiased facts on whether a new bridge is needed. But perhaps Mark's ideal, would be to convert the road bridge so that it is only used by steam trains, trams and penny farthings!
19 September 2005
Tay Tolls Scandal
According to Dundee's Evening Telegraph, most of the councillors on the Tay Bridge board have voted to spend £2 million on the existing toll booths, and possibly another £13 million in the longer term:- "Backing for road bridge tolls move"
The Tolls on the Tay bridge could and should be removed. If it is correct that the authority is now committed to spending more money on toll collection it is a scandal.
18 September 2005
On Friday, Brian Currie in Glasgow's Evening Times had another story about the probability that tolls will soon be removed from the Erskine bridge:- "Erskine Bridge tolls may be gone by end of the year"
The Transport Minister, Tavish Scott, apparently accepts that there is a "moral force to the argument" that tolls should be removed. Let us hope that this is his view, and that he realises that this applies to all three toll bridges.
8 September 2005
No Tolls Plea
Tonight's Evening News carries our call for everyone to lobby their MSP to remove all Scotland's tolls:- "Call to petition MSPs over end to Forth tolls"
Best way for Forth Railway Bridge
Yesterday's Evening News had a story from Alan Roden about the Scottish Executive spending mega bucks on removing goods trains from the Forth railway bridge, so that they can get one extra passenger train an hour from Fife to Edinburgh. They reckon that this will make a big difference to road traffic.:- "More trains lined up for Forth Bridge in bid to cut road traffic"
When the railway bridge was recently closed, nobody noticed. There should be an independent study into whether the greatest benefit might be from converting the railway bridge to a road bridge.
6 September 2005
More Tolls Hype
Yesterday's Evening News carried a story from Alan Roden about the Forth Bridge authority saying that a new bridge is urgently needed. They now have the backing of Andrew Burns, Edinburgh's transport supremo:- "Urgent call to produce design for new bridge"
We issued this statement:-
"When in 2004, the Forth bridge authority wanted a toll increase for cars, they said that they needed it as they were going to spend £150 million on repairs etc by 2018. This £150 million was capital spending over and above their normal maintenance spending.
Last December when it came to the public inquiry into the need for an increase, they reduced their capital programme a "bit" by taking out the £30 million that they were going to spend on the A8000.
Since May Day, when they increased the tolls, we don't know whether to laugh or cry. About the only thing that seems to be going ahead is the spending on the A8000. Bridge tolls are paying for this road, though it is rightly regarded by the Executive as a strategic road and should have been financed out of the £50 billion that Gordon Brown gets from road users each year.
As for the bridge, they are now saying that the structure that they planned to spend over £100 million on, may only have a life of 20 years. And even if it isn't falling down, they want to build a new bridge, which would be mainly used by "buses, taxis and high-occupancy vehicles ... light rail or trams."
Initially these plans appeared to be opposed by Edinburgh councillors, but are now being backed by Councillor Andrew Burns, who masterminded the attempt to foist tolls on to Edinburgh.
MSPs will soon be deciding on the tolls on Scotland's three remaining bridges. In the West of Scotland, the people, MSPs and councillors are united in demanding an end to tolls on the Erskine bridge over the Clyde. We fear that some of the councillors on the East side of Scotland are fighting the other way - to keep the tolls.
We urge everyone to press their MSP to ignore the stories about the need for a new Forth bridge, and to vote to remove tolls from the whole of Scotland. When the tolls have gone and the Executive have taken control of the bridges, there can be a proper independent expert review as to what Scotland's needs are."
4 September 2005
More stories to justify Tolls
On Friday, the BBC carried the story about the "need" for a new bridge, and that even a four pounds toll would not be enough to stop drivers from using the bridge. It was reported in May that corrosion to the main cables meant that "the crossing could be condemned by 2015" - the BBC now reports that the cables have been looked at and - they want another look:- "Capacity concern over road bridge"
The bridge authority have been busy pumping out stories to justify their tolls regime - we hope that people will not be distracted from the compelling reasons why the tolls should be scrapped and the bridge taken into the hands of the Scottish Executive.
2 September 2005
Tolls on Tay - Will they go up, or go away?
Scotland should be removing it's three remaining tolls. Instead, motorists are now threatened with a toll increase on the Tay bridge:- Evening Telegraph - "Executive could step in over tolls"
The report says that Tavish Scott, the new Transport Minister who visited Dundee yesterday, is looking at whether he can help in some way - He can, by making sure that the tolls are removed and that the bridge becomes part of the A92 trunk road.
The answer is Stay!
Steve Bargeton in the Courier reports the exclusive answer that he got from the Minister - tolls will not go away. The new Minister believes that scrapping tolls would lead to more congestion:- "Minister says tolls are set to stay"
Does the Minister not know that the congestion related to the Tay bridge is vehicles queuing in Dundee to pay the bridge tolls?
1 September 2005
"A bridge too few"
The officer in charge of the Forth road bridge has called for a new bridge to be built. But it seems that they don't want cars to use it. It would be for "buses, taxis and high-occupancy vehicles ... light rail or trams.":- Evening News - "A bridge too few is a now familiar cry"
The officer also seems to be saying that lorries are doing major damage to the existing bridge. This is strange, as when the bridge authority recently increased tolls for cars, they left lorry tolls alone. Why?
The authority that runs the Forth road bridge is dominated by councillors from Fife and Edinburgh, but it is the latter which has just started it's turn as chairman. Edinburgh does not want a new bridge. Alan Roden now reports that the chairman of the bridge authority says that the idea for a new bridge for trams is a "Trojan horse". Edinburgh suggests that they need improvements to existing public transport:- Evening News - "New Forth road bridge will 'never' carry trams"
The NAAT view is that thorough and independent research is needed into whether a new bridge is needed. The suggestion that a bridge is urgently needed is just a red herring that confuses the tolls issue.
Four Pounds Forth Toll
The story about the authorities wanting a four pounds toll was reported today by Gary Fitzpatrick in the Dunfermline Press.
26 August 2005
Four Pounds for Forth bridge - News reports
Aileen Robertson in the Courier reports that Mark Ruskell for the Greens is backing four pounds tolls. But he doesn't want the bridge toll money spent on a new bridge. He wants to reduce traffic and says that the tolls should be spent on public transport. Other reports:- Daily Record - "PLAN TO HIKE TOLL FOR SOLO DRIVERS"
The Herald - "Plan for £4 bridge toll attacked".
25 August 2005
Four Pounds for Forth bridge
Alan Roden reports on proposal for four pounds toll on Forth road bridge. It comes from a Scottish transport quango - SESTRAN and is to be considered next week by Forth Estuary Transport Association (FETA) who operate the bridge. The toll would apply to drivers travelling alone in the peak period. The semi peak toll would be £2, and off peak £1. The proposed new toll regime is estimated by SESTRAN to cost drivers an extra £146 million pounds at today's values:- Evening News - "Road bridge bosses put £4 peak time toll on the agenda".
Tom Minogue, spokesman for the National Alliance against Tolls in Scotland said:-
"This raises the Orwellian spectre of poor people in their Fords travelling in the twilight hours while the better off in their BMWs travel in the sunshine without the hindrance of their poor fellow citizens clogging up the road."
"All of this while FETA, who run the bridge sit with over £16 million in the bank."
"That this could happen under a Labour Chancellor, Gordon Brown who in 1985 was a leading opponent of toll increases by the then Tory government would be laughable if it were not so serious a matter for those who by accident of residence live in Fife and have to travel to Edinburgh on a regular basis."
"Tolls on the bridge were due to end by 1994. That was extended to 1998, then 2003, and then 2006. It appears the Scottish Executive and the transport establishment are planning to extend this extortion till eternity."
"We call on all Fifers and others who use the Forth and Tay bridges to lobby their MSP to end this intolerable tolling regime."
24 August 2005
Haulier wants return of illegal tolls
Marcello Mega reports that a Skye haulier wants his tolls back. Robbie the Pict and others have pointed out that the tolls were illegal as the tolling licence was never signed:- Scotsman - "Skye haulier demands £500,000 refund of bridge tolls".
Many individuals on Skye are more concerned that nothing has been done to squash the criminal convictions of those who opposed the tolls. But if the haulier can persuade the courts to return the tolls, how could the convictions stand?
New Forth bridge
The transport establishment seem to have leaked a report that recommends another Forth bridge:- Scotsman - "Study backs plan for new Forth road bridge".
Not surprisingly the establishment seem to want a new bridge, but don't really want road traffic to use it!
19 August 2005
Greens want more - Tolls
Last night's Evening News reports that a Green MSP has called for tolls to be doubled for cars with only one occupant:- "Green MSP backs higher tolls for solo bridge drivers".
The MSP is apparently concerned about congestion. The answer to that is to remove the tolls. The report gives the impression that charging solo drivers double is the norm outside Scotland. This is not so.
Clyde councillors want No Tolls!
In the meantime, the Evening Times in Glasgow reports that councillors are meeting to discuss their battle plans against tolls on the Erskine bridge.
16 August 2005
The Scottish Executive have published the submissions to phase 2 of the Tolls review. For further information see our main Scotland page:- Scottish Executive Review of Tolls.
The Courier (Dundee) covered this in yesterday's paper. They reported that the Tay bridge board wants to charge higher tolls for cars with only one occupant. Dundee council also wants to keep tolls but is opposed to the bridge board's proposal or to any form of congestion charging. Dundee point out that the Tay bridge is operating well below capacity.
A pity that they didn't also point out that all the congestion near the bridge is caused by the tolls!
4 August 2005
Toll Booth Holdup
R Alder from Dalgety Bay, Fife, had this letter in the Dunfermline Press on 28th July:-
"The A90 from the capital city to Fife is surely a trunk road. If not, why not, as it is the direct link to the north? As a trunk road it should not be subject to tolls, such as at the crossing of the Forth.
At present it seems that the management of the bridge are severely lacking competence as there are frequent holdups due to inadequate toll booth availability.
For instance on Friday 22nd July, there were five booths open, three for traffic along the A90, which was clear, and two for traffic coming down the slip road, with tailback to Echline and the Ferrymuir roundabout. Marvellous!
Get rid of the quango and let the Department of Transport do the job it should be doing, with staff who have the knowledge of running an organisation of that type."
The solution of course is to get rid of the tolls!
Forth Bridge Accounts
The bridge authority have recently produced their accounts for the year to March 2005. They made a profit of six million pounds, but after spending seven million pounds on capital, their reserves reduced to £16.5 million. For more details see the Scotland page.
26 July 2005
Scottish Council for Development & Industry says Tolls should end
The Glasgow Evening Times reports that the Scottish Council for Development & Industry wants tolls on Erskine Bridge to end:- "Calls for an end to tolls on Erskine Bridge" (2 pages)
In fact the SCDI have called for an end to tolls on ALL three bridges:- SCDI Submission to Review of Tolls (note that the consultation assumed that tolls would remain)
Tom Minogue on behalf of NAAT Scotland said (Dunfermline Press 28th July)- "We made a similar submission to the Executive. Here in Fife we are in the very unfair position where people are being penalised for their place of residence."
Edinburgh's buses are into the second week of a strike. This has inconvenienced a lot of people but many have welcomed it. Comments on the 18th at BBC website included:-
"Fantastic - I was able to get around Edinburgh without any problems today - first time in a very long time. In fact, with this little congestion around, maybe the best thing is to stop running buses everywhere when they only achieve around 30% capacity throughout the day. As the posters say - "Stop the war against the Motorist!" and give the bus lanes back to road tax payers." Andy, Edinburgh,
"With the buses off the road and the bus lanes open, there is much less congestion on the road." A.B., Edinburgh,
"I had to take the car to work this morning, and was amazed by how quick it was without half the roads being left empty for bus lanes." Matt, Edinburgh,
"I've never seen the traffic flowing so smoothly as it did this morning, now that the bus lanes have been opened to the people who pay for them (i.e. the motorist)." Andrew, Livingston
"Can I please request a bus strike every Monday? Having the roads back to their pre-"Greenway" 100% capacity cut 15 minutes off my journey." Alan, Edinburgh.
Even cyclists thought it was better, including:- "Great cycle commute this morning. The streets of Edinburgh have never been so safe." David, Bathgate
Today in the Evening News, Jennifer Veitch who was a strong toll supporter, says- "I DON'T know whether you have noticed it, too, but there's been a rather eerie silence on the streets of Edinburgh in the past week. The roads seem almost empty and traffic levels have dipped to the point where, outside my flat in Gorgie, it's no longer a death-dicing mission to cross the road at peak travel times." "Strike puts a dent in city's car-free vision".
This doesn't mean that it is necessarily better without the buses. But many people said during the toll campaign that it was the council who had caused the congestion by restricting road space for cars and lorries. It is also a mystery why some buses are allowed to be so much dirtier and noisier than cars.
For at least while the strike lasts, we hope all motorists will offer lifts to others. And don't forget, when you can, it's healthier to walk or cycle!
23 July 2005
Four Pounds For Forth
Andrew Picken in the Dunfermline Press on Thursday 21st reported that the quango (SESTRAN), that may take over the bridge, plans to charge a toll of two pounds each way. The charge would be less if the journey was off peak or there were more people in the car.
Believe it or believe it not, Fife's transport manager apparently said that "The rush hour is getting longer and longer with people trying to avoid the worst of the congestion, so differential tolling would solve this problem."
Perhaps we are missing something, but this seems to mean that the effect that they want from increasing tolls in the peak period (i.e. encouraging traffic to go earlier or later) is already happening without differential higher tolls.
Tom Minogue from NAAT Scotland said "These measures would hit the people who can least afford them and penalises people who stay in Fife and have to travel for work. It's a horrific idea and punishes those who are not able to make other arrangements. It brings us right back to the point that the bridge is paid for and why should the tolls stay in place.
An officer of FETA, the existing bridge quango, endorsed the views of the Fife officer and apparently said: "The bridge daily sees the effect .. with the morning rush-hour now starting at 6.30am and not finishing until close to 9am."
- Does this mean that the higher tolls for the "rush hour" will last for two and a half hours?
21 July 2005
Skye Toll "Criminals" seek Justice
Anti toll campaigners, including Robbie the Pict, are trying to get the convictions squashed of Skye Toll protestors. Campaigners are being priced out of Justice and argue that the Scottish Executive should act:- BBC - "Toll campaigners fear court costs"
The use of the criminal law against Skye protestors is unique in the UK. It does not say much for justice that protestors were treated as criminals.
20 July 2005
Forth Bridge officers want to keep Tolls
Jane Bradley reports in the Evening News that the Forth bridge authority is planning on spending £110 to £160 million on painting and repairing the bridge.
One of the bridge officers says "A crossing like the Forth Road Bridge takes so much upkeep and maintenance, it is not fair that central government should have to pay for it. This is a model that has been used in many other countries in the world, on many other major bridges, from Japan to Denmark and the United States." "Bridge to get £65m lick of paint"
Fortunately it is not the bridge officers who will decide whether the Forth bridge toll remains. It is the MSPs, we hope that they will listen to the case for fairness and justice, and stop the tolls.
As for the implication that all major bridges are tolled, we suggest that the Forth bridge officers look at the bridge that opened in United States on the 16th July:- July Tolls news page
15 July 2005
"Let's scrap these bridge tolls now"
The Evening News (who made sure that the people of Edinburgh knew the full facts about the Edinburgh Toll), today published this Opinion piece from one of our campaigners, John McGoldrick:- "Let's scrap these bridge tolls now"
"It's not to their benefit"
Tom Minogue who is campaigning against tolls in Fife, today had this letter in the Courier
Sir,-I am surprised that more is not made of the contribution car users from outside of Fife and the Lothians pay to build new roads in these districts on either shore of the Forth.
The £8.4 million Rosyth strategic link road will benefit Fife road users and the £30 million A8000 upgrading project will benefit the Lothian road user, but why should these projects be funded by Forth Road Bridge toll-users from further afield of these areas?
Many regular commuters from Tayside who stump up the £1 toll money as they travel to and from work or whatever have no knowledge of, or say in, how their money is spent by Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA).
The above examples are but two of the off-bridge ways in which FETA spend toll payers' money.
At the last count, FETA had £17 million in the bank so it is not as if they are cash-strapped.
The 1958 Act that authorised tolling specified that the money was to be used for construction and maintenance for a maximum of 30 years. Surely using toll-payers' money in this manner cannot be justified or legal?
14 July 2005
"Why Bridge Users Will be Paying for New Road"
Today the Dunfermline Press reports on the scandal of tolls from the Forth bridge being used to pay for roads. The main one is the A8000 which is to cost £36 million, it appears all of this will come from bridge tolls.
Edinburgh City Council is responsible for the road, but does not regard it as important. Though the ones that should really be held to account are the Scottish Executive. They say that this road is of "strategic importance", but have refused to class it as a trunk road. Instead they have emulated Pontius Pilate. Are they trying to trap Fifers on the north bank?
To add to the scandal, when the bridge authorities said that they needed a toll increase, one reason was to pay for the A8000. This was one of the grounds on which the objectors said that the toll increase should be refused. But this issue was never dealt with at the Inquiry, as the bridge authority said that they had withdrawn the scheme from their spending plans as they hoped that the Executive would pay for it.
The Dunfermline Press quotes anti toll campaigner, Tom Minogue, "people are being conned". Commuter, David Marr, said "It beggars belief that one of the busiest roads in Scotland is a single-track country lane."
6 July 2005
Tolls Consultation Deadline
The Scottish Executive deadline for views on the tolls ends this Friday the 8th. This is our views submitted to the Tolls Review
We have also passed the submission on to some of the MSPs. We are grateful for their interest, and realise that many of them have been opposed to the tolls for many years. We will be even more pleased when they vote to stop the tolls!
We did send out this press release:-
"Tom Minogue, from the National Alliance Against Tolls, said that tolls were a major injustice to those people affected.
"It cannot be fair that because of an accident of where we live, some of us have to bear the brunt of indiscriminate taxation for the privilege of using Scotland's remaining three tolled bridges."
"The cost to the Executive of scrapping the bridge tolls would be insignificant and it would boost the economy. Most importantly it would remove from Scotland a major source of injustice and irritation."
PS. Sad to say the only paper that appeared to cover this was the Fife Herald & Post on the 13th.
2 July 2005
Forth Tolls to be spent on Spin doctors
The trolls at the Forth bridge authority are to hire consultants to try and sell the idea of even higher tolls. Fife councillor Alice McGarry accused them of "spin-doctoring":- Evening News - "Bridge chiefs aiming to win public support for higher tolls"
1 July 2005
Call for End to Fife building
The new chairman of the Forth bridge authority is an Edinburgh councillor. He says that "It's not for me to say" but he thinks Fife should stop building houses as it will increase traffic on the bridge:- Evening News - "New bridge chief calls for halt on Fife homes"
It seems that if you want to run a toll road, your main aim is to drive your customers away!
30 June 2005
Erskine Bridge Toll Collectors' Strike Ends
Strikers have narrowly voted to accept management's last pay offer:- Evening Times - "30p pay rise ends Erskine Bridge toll strikes chaos"
It shows the indifference of the Scottish Executive that tolls were not waived during the strikes. Instead users of the bridge had to queue even longer to hand their money over to the strike breakers who enforced the tolls.
Fife Council Ask for Crumbs
Fife Council have asked for some help from the Executive towards the cost of the Forth and Tay bridges, but they appear to be quite happy to keep the tolls. They also thank the Forth bridge authority for "funding for the A8000, the spur road into the ferry port and their decision to support an additional multi-modal Forth crossing":- Evening Telegraph - "Attempt to ease"
We don't know whether to laugh or cry, but we bet that the Scottish Executive are laughing. The weakness of Fife council compares with the councils in the West of Scotland who have called on the Executive to scrap the Erskine Bridge tolls. All the goodies that Fife Council are so grateful for, are coming out of bridge tolls - largely paid by Fifers.
29 June 2005
Scrapping Erskine Tolls will create jobs
Today there is another report of Andy White, West Dunbartonshire Council leader, telling MSPs about the effect of tolls on Erskine Bridge. He says that if they go, then it will create 100 jobs:- Evening Times - "Ending Erskine tolls 'will create 100 jobs'"
We do not agree with Andy. In our opinion, the effect of tolls has a psychological impact on people and businesses that might want to relocate in the wider area. Scrapping the tolls could bring thousands of jobs to the region.
28 June 2005
West Scotland tells MSPs that Erskine Tolls MUST End
Andy White, West Dunbartonshire Council leader, and other council leaders have told MSPs that tolls on Erskine Bridge should be scrapped:- Evening Times - "Erskine Bridge tolls must be scrapped, leader tells MSPs"
We agree with the councils in the West of Scotland that the Erskine bridge toll must go. We hope that the councils in the East of Scotland will have similar views on the Forth and Tay bridge tolls.
Tay Bridge Repairs
A week ago it was reported that repairs on the Tay bridge will now start on 1st August :- Evening Telegraph on 20th - "Road bridge repairs may see tolls increase"
It is odd that while the Scottish Executive is reviewing the future of tolls, the authorities that run the bridges are finding that they need mega millions to stop them from falling down.
Tolls should be scrapped and the bridges maintained toll free as with other roads, bridges and tunnels in Scotland.
25 June 2005
Annual toll increases
Alan Roden reports that FETA, the authority that controls the Forth bridge wants automatic toll increases:- Evening News - "Fresh pay offer in Erskine Bridge toll staff dispute"
Tom Minogue, anti toll campaigner, said ."I would be very opposed to any inflation-linked increases. The bridge should be paid for through road tax and petrol duty, like most bridges in the UK."
Also today, this letter from Tom was published in The Courier:-
Sir,-I am pleased to see from The Courier on June 23, that Stagecoach has increased its annual profit by 13% to £108.3 million. But the fact this company is doing so well begs the question: Why are car users on the Forth Road Bridge subsidising this private company?
FETA (Forth Estuary Transport Authority), the unelected quango that takes the tolls (supposedly to pay for bridge maintenance) gifted the Stagecoach/Fife Council joint venture at Ferrytoll £500,000 of toll-payers' money.
Our money was given to assist Stagecoach/Fife Region to build a multi-storey car park at Ferrytoll so that more people could use Stagecoach buses and thereby avoid paying bridge tolls.
By what authority can an unelected body such as FETA give away our money to cash rich companies? Can this be legal?
Tom Minogue, for NAAT Scotland, 94 Victoria Terrace, Dunfermline
24 June 2005
Erskine Bridge Strike
It is reported that a deal may be near to end the series of strikes:- Evening Times - "Call for road bridge tolls to be linked to inflation"
The company has unfortunately been using strike breakers, while at the same time asking the Scottish Executive for more money.
23 June 2005
Nick goes up a Notch
Nicol Stephen, Scotland's Transport Minister, has become leader of Scotland's Lib Dems. Due to the coalition this means that he automatically becomes Deputy First Minister. We don't know who the new Transport Minister will be.
22 June 2005
Anti Toll Group Manifesto
A major part of the defeat of the Edinburgh Toll plan was due to the work of community groups led by Tina Woolnough. The death of the toll proposal was the birth of the Edinburgh Traffic Forum. They have now submitted proposals to the council.:- Evening News - "Campaigners ready to deliver demands to transport leader". The Forums's proposals include:-
Free bus transport for children;
Campaign to promote a code of conduct for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians;
Improved bus services;
Improved car parking and park and ride services.
20 June 2005
One for the Price of Two
The authority that runs the Forth Road bridge are considering abolishing toll discounts on prepaid vouchers. Tom Minogue, an anti tolls campaigner said "There should not be any tolls in the first place, but anything that decreases the costs should be maintained. This growth in revenue is scandalous and is only brought about by picking on the little person.":- Evening News - "Bridge toll discount vouchers set to be abolished"
The cost of the bridge was paid for years ago, and the authority has massive reserves. Despite this when the tolls were recently increased, drivers who had already bought vouchers at the old price, had to also hand over the increase when they used the vouchers. As on all toll roads, the users are treated like sheep to be fleeced.
17 June 2005
Erskine Bridge Strike
The series of one day strikes by Erskine Bridge toll collectors continues (see 20th & 21st May). The company that is paid to collect the tolls has been using strike breakers. It has also asked the Scottish Executive for money so that it can increase the pay of the collectors while still making a profit:-
Evening Times on 17th - "More strike delays on Erskine Bridge"
Evening Times on 16th - "Bid for public cash over bridge strikes"
Evening Times on 14th - "Fresh bid to end bridge strike row"
Socialist Worker on 11th - "Erskine bridge toll collectors strike over pay"
Evening Times on 3rd - "Bridge toll strike fury as boss goes off on his holiday"
The Scottish Executive don't seem to care about inconvenience to bridge users, all they are interested in is forcing travellers to pay their toll.
16 June 2005
New Forth bridge - And No Tolls
The Scottish Executive has approved a new bridge over the Forth, close to the existing Kincardine bridge:- Scotsman - "Green light for new Forth crossing"
The bridge will only be a single carriageway, but will not be tolled. It would probably have cost little more to have built a wider bridge. Even so, it is said that the bridge will attract some traffic from the tolled Forth road bridge.
12 June 2005
Anon list of £1 a mile roads
An anonymous source has revealed that the six places that will have the highest Scottish road toll under government plans are:-
Glasgow's Kingston Bridge, sections of the A720 Edinburgh city bypass, sections of the M8, the A8000 towards the Forth Road Bridge, the A80 between Glasgow and Cumbernauld, and the A90 at Bridge of Dee near Aberdeen:- Scotland on Sunday - "Revealed: the £1-a-mile hotspots"
The same anonymous source suggested that some of Scotland's roads would be free. We wonder how he or she knows all this?
10 June 2005
Scottish Executive say Darling plans would be "a very good idea" for rural Scotland:- The Scotsman - "Rural Scotland may cash in with pay-as-you-drive"
Son of Toll Tax
Also today the Daily Record reports that "SCOTLAND could be home to Britain's first pay-as-you-drive city. Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow tick all the right boxes for a pilot scheme to test road-pricing before it is unrolled across the UK."
Well at least they weren't daft enough to include Edinburgh!
Alistair Darling v. Tony Vickers from the Association of British Drivers:- The Scotsman - "Should Britain's motorists be taxed for every mile?
9 June 2005
"Scots drivers pay less under road toll plans"
The Scotsman published a letter we sent on the effect of Darling plans on Scotland. Here is the unexpurgated version:-
"Your story on Monday is headed "Scots drivers pay less under road toll plans".
Does anyone think that the people who so resoundingly said NO to Edinburgh's Toll plans will fall for this one?
Overall road charges under this Tolls plan would go up substantially for two reasons.
Firstly to recover the costs. The Department for Transport said last July that the cost of implementing tolling on all British roads could be between £10 billion and £62 billion, with annual running costs of £5 billion.
Secondly, the all party Commons Transport Committee said in March that tolls should be used as "a revenue raising, rather than a revenue neutral, approach".
Even with these billions of extra taxes it is possible that those drivers who are driving on almost empty roads MIGHT still pay less. But most people, whether in Scotland or anywhere else, live in urban areas and they need to travel at around the same time as most other people. By definition, most people can not be driving on almost empty roads!
We hope that Alistair's Darling's Tolls Chimera will not distract the people of Scotland from the problem of the three existing tolls on the Clyde, Forth and Tay. Those tolls are unfair and hamper the local economies. The Scottish Executive should pay heed to the local MSPs and scrap those tolls without more excuses and delays.
8 June 2005
Forth Bridge Authority to be Abolished?
The Herald & Post reports that the authority that runs the Forth Road Bridge may be abolished. The bridge would instead be run by SESTRAN (South East Scotland Transport Partnership). SESTRAN includes more councils and also representatives of private business. The idea comes from the Scottish Executive and is supported by Fife but not by Edinburgh.
We suspect that the aim of any move will not be to help those forced to pay tolls. We also wonder if the idea is prompted by doubts as to whether the collection of tolls by the current authority is legal.
6 June 2005
Following yesterday's deliberate leak of the Government's plans for tolls on all UK roads, we have some of the usual suspects (Alistair Darling, RAC Foundation and David Begg) claiming that Scotland will benefit from a toll system:- The Scotsman - "Scots drivers pay less under road toll plans"
For our reaction see 9th June.
SNP said the proposals were "crazy" and issued this Press Release
Also today the Daily Record reported SNP transport spokesman Fergus Ewing as saying that Scots would be hit harder as they drive further on average.
The Evening Times in Glasgow didn't quite agree. They seemed to think that Scotland's drivers would be better off. Except that is for Glasgow:-:- "Car charge boost - but not in Glasgow
5 June 2005
Tolls on All UK Roads
Today there is a leak of Alistair's plans for tolls on all UK roads:- Scotland on Sunday - "Motorists face fees to drive on busiest roads "
href="http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4651010">Press Association - "Road Charging Revolution Aims to Beat Gridlock Crisis"
2 June 2005
Fife Councillors tell Executive "Please Sir Can We Have More Tolls"
Bruce Fegan in the Courier and Advertiser reports on Fife Council's response to the Scottish Executive consultation on Tolls. They suggest that buses should be exempt from tolls and that other vehicles with more than one occupant should get a discount. They also back "park and chose" schemes, where drivers meet and decide who to share their journey with. The main message though is that they want increased tolls.
1 June 2005
Questions at Holyrood
On 26th May, some of the West of Scotland MSPs raised questions on the Erskine Bridge tolls, then some of the East of Scotland MSPs joined in and asked about the Forth and Tay tolls:- Scottish Parliament - "Peak-time toll for Forth road bridge postponed" (scroll down to col 17307)
Calling for abolition of the Erskine Bridge tolls was Jackie Baillie , she was supported by Trish Godman and Des McNulty.
Jackie Baillie asked "The minister will be aware of research that his department has carried out that points to the clear conclusion that removing the tolls from the Erskine bridge will have a positive environmental benefit throughout the west of Scotland by alleviating congestion on the Kingston bridge and in the Clyde tunnel, which is estimated to cost our economy £19 million each year. I know that the minister wants to improve our economy and our environment, so when will he remove the tolls?"
Trish Godman said "The impact of tolling on the local economies on both sides of the bridge cannot be overstated. Is the minister aware that many of my constituents have to travel to the other side of the river for out-patient clinics? Does he agree that the existence of tolls acts as an additional levy on patients and that low-paid workers are disadvantaged further by the tolling of the bridge when they have to pay more than £6 a week to go back and forth to their work?"
Joining in and calling for abolition of the Forth and Tay tolls were Alasdair Morgan and Andrew Arbuckle.
The answers that they all got from Nicol Stephen, the Transport minister, do not hold out much hope. We urge other MSPs to join in to increase the pressure on the Minister.
Forth Bridge Tolls
There were further reports today that more toll increases will be delayed because the bridge authority (FETA) won't be allowed to introduce "road user charging" without an Inquiry. In the meantime FETA will try and get the existing tolls extended. THE TOLLS UNDER EXISTING LAW SHOULD END IN 2006.
31 May 2005
Forth Tolls "Political double-speak"
Tom Minogue of "Fifers Against Toll Increases" had this letter published in today's Courier:-
"Sir,-Regarding the letter from FETA, (May 26), which states "there is absolutely no possibility of road user charges being introduced by April next year, the very earliest would be late 2007" this is a model of political double-speak.
In December, 2004, FETA presented evidence to the public inquiry held to determine whether there should be an increase in tolls, that "road user charges would be in operation by April 2006". The source of this claim-you guessed it, FETA.
This type of misinformation should come as no surprise to those who were at the inquiry as the reporter was also presented by FETA with a 14-year "look ahead" of expenditure including £7.1 million for painting in the year 2018! This was only part of a presentation by FETA of how massive sums (£65 million on painting the suspended span) were needed in the future and that the proposed toll increase was essential to ensure the bridge's life for another 40 years.
Hard on the heels of the inquiry when the toll increase was approved we heard a different story from those unelected politicians who run FETA-the bridge only has another 10 years left and we will not be painting it, but scrapping it in 2018!
Where do we the public have a say in this? Nowhere. The unelected quango FETA, who according to the Transport Minister, Nicol Stephen, "own the bridge", can do as they like as long as they keep the Scottish Executive happy.
FETA, no doubt with the approval of the Transport Minister, in December 2004, spun a yarn to the reporter who heard the objections to the proposed toll increase. By their own admission FETA now do not require that increase as their "look ahead" of expenditure is now in question."
27 May 2005
Forth Bridge Tolls NOT to Rocket Yet
Alastair Dalton in The Scotsman reports that further toll increases are likely to be delayed due to the need for "consultation":- The Scotsman - "Peak-time toll for Forth road bridge postponed"
The bridge authority want to sting the motorists using the Forth Road Bridge to pay for all sorts of schemes all over the place. What they should be doing is scrapping the tolls.
The report ends "Motoring groups have said FETA must spell out exactly what any increase would fund." The NAAT oppose the tolls whatever schemes they might be used on.
26 May 2005
Forth Bridge Tolls May Rocket
The Courier reports that FETA, the authority which runs the Bridge, want to bring in a new system of tolls that could go up to £3 for cars.
The Mid Scotland and Fife SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:- "This is actually road toll charging by the back door. The whole thing makes a mockery of the Executive's so-called review of toll bridges."
Mid Scotland and Fife Lib Dem MSP Andrew Arbuckle said:- "The use of the Forth road bridge tolls as a method of introducing congestion charging will hit the many Fifers who use the bridge to go to work. The road bridge is, or should be, part of the national road network, not a handy opportunity to fleece motorists who have few other travel options. This move to introduce variable charging seems to have been sneaked through and I am sure there will be many incensed motorists when they realise what has happened."
The story also says that FETA will make application to the Scottish Executive for a further extension to the current "tolling regime" to cover the period until a road user charge can be introduced.:- The Courier - "Fife drivers face paying £3 to cross road bridge"
The Courier leader mentions a few ways that congestion on the Forth road bridge might be reduced. But there are others:-
a) Some of the congestion around the bridge, will be due to inadequate roads in the surrounding area, (a problem which should of course be solved without tolls).
b) Toll collection will cause some congestion. If tolls were scrapped there would be no delays caused by traffic slowing down to pay the toll.
c) Tidal flow could be introduced (three lanes from Fife at morning peak, and three lanes to Fife at evening peak). NAAT suggested this at the Tolls Inquiry last December. The Authority said that it would not work, but the system is used elsewhere in Britain on both tolled and non tolled roads.
d) Call for an independent study into the overall effects of possibly converting the Forth rail bridge to road.
The authorities of course want both tolls and congestion, and will resist any changes that do away with either of them. They will say that suggestions are impractical. They should be challenged to have independently monitored trials e.g. suspend the tolls for a month and try tidal flow for a different month.
The Courier story also says "the authority faces a £12 million "funding gap" for improvements to the A8000". But FETA told the Tolls Inquiry in December that they hoped that the Scottish Executive would fund the A8000, and the scheme was removed from their spending proposals. The A8000 is a "strategic" scheme
and should be 100% funded by the Executive. This is something that FETA and the Executive seem to be dumping on the toll payers, without most people being aware of how unfair it is.
Forth Bridge Work Postponed
Bridge was due to be closed briefly today to erect a "safety canopy" to be used for painting work. But it has been postponed till July:- The Courier - "Weather hits Forth Bridge closure"
The article says that they are going to spend £65 million over the next 15 years on repainting. How does anyone know?
25 May 2005
Tory disagreement on Forth and Tay Road bridges tolls
Tory councillor Mike Scott-Hayward has come to the support of Ted Brocklebank MSP who was attacked for calling for abolition of Forth and Tay bridge tolls:- Fife Free Press - "Tories in War of Words"
21 May 2005
Day 2 of Erskine Bridge Toll collectors strike
Report from Scotland Today
20 May 2005
Erskine Bridge Tolls collected by Strike breakers
On the 11th we reported that the Erskine Bridge might be toll free due to a strike. The strike has gone ahead, but "security personnel" have been brought in to collect the tolls:- Evening Times - "Major tailbacks as Erskine Bridge hit by toll staff strike"
The Scottish Executive are making a BIG profit on the bridge, it does not bode well for their Toll "review" that they prefer to use strike breakers rather than lose a few days tolls.
We wrote to Evening Times saying:- "The £11 million cost of building the bridge was recovered many years ago, and they have built up big profits in the bank.
Tolls delay traffic and encourage some drivers to use longer less suitable routes. They also harm the local economy.
We urge all bridge users to lobby the politicians to scrap the tolls."
19 May 2005
Tay Bridge Bill - 2
Following report on 9th in the Courier, here is another:- Fife Free Press - "PROSPECT OF HIGHER BRIDGE TOLLS SLAMMED"
Councillors should not be begging for money, they should demand an end to tolls.
18 May 2005
Tory MSP Attacked for calling for abolition of Tolls
The Leader of Fife Tories attacks Ted Brocklebank MSP. The MSP had called for the tolls on the Forth and Tay bridges to be abolished. The local Tory leader says that the MSP was going against official party policy:- The Courier - "Astonishing attack on Tory MSP"
What Ted said that upset the Fife leader was in a question to a Minister raised at Holyrood on 12th May:-
"Does he accept that one of the most effective ways of boosting the Fife economy would be to abolish the tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges, rather than to increase their cost? That would not only encourage people to visit Fife where there is a feeling, particularly in the tourism sector that there is a conspiracy to close Fife down altogether, but it would free up commuter traffic at busy times. Does he further accept that the Executive should help to meet the spiralling cost of repairs to the Tay road bridge, and that regular users of the bridge should not have to foot the bill for what is part of the national road network?"
We fully support Ted Brocklebank. We were unaware that it was official Tory policy to keep tolls. Like the other main parties, it is sometimes difficult to see which way they are facing on tolls, but the Tories campaigned strongly against the Edinburgh toll.
11 May 2005
Erskine Bridge Toll Free (for a few days)
Toll collectors on the Erskine bridge are "threatening" to go on strike:- Evening Times - "Toll-free travel as bridge staff vote to strike"
We suspect that this strike will not go ahead. The Scottish Executive will get the company to either pay the collectors whatever they want or use blacklegs.
9 May 2005
Tay Bridge Bill
It is claimed that £20 million is needed to repair the Tay bridge. Andrew Arbuckle, councillor for Newburgh and Tay Coast, said "Why should motorists who use the Tay Road Bridge have to fork out extra cash for what is part of the national road network?":- The Courier - "Plea for more cash to cover bridge repairs"
There is no justification for tolls on the Tay bridge, the original construction cost must have been recovered years ago. The three remaining Scottish Tolls (two in Fife) are currently "under review". It seems as if this may have triggered off massive spending plans. We hope that all the local councillors will join in the demand for the Tay bridge to become part of the national road network.
5 May 2005
Forth Bridge "Crisis"
There is apparently a difference of opinion between the Forth road bridge authority and the Scottish Executive as to whether the bridge is really on it's last legs.
The authority claim that the Minister - Stephen Nicol, is ill informed:- Evening News - "Minister 'ill-informed' over scale of crisis facing bridge"
It is amazing that the authority should attack the minister when he has just granted them a completely unnecessary toll increase.
The same story says that "Workers at the Forth Road Bridge are being verbally abused by motorists". If true, we are pleased that motorists are angry, but the target for the anger should be the politicians and not the workers. The founder of Fifers Against Toll Increases, Tom Minogue, said that he would not condone abusing bridge workers, but said he understood drivers' anger.
We also wonder to what extent this may be exaggerated as an excuse for the queues at the toll barriers.
4 May 2005
Forth Road Bridge to Close?
"THE Forth Road Bridge faces closure in as little as ten years because of damage caused by the thousands of vehicles crossing it every day." Evening News - "Road bridge faces closure in 20 years"
What a truly amazing story from the authority that runs the bridge. They have just had a toll increase, because of the vast sums they said that they needed to spend over the next decade or so, and now they say the bridge may have to close - Brilliant timing!
They also say that the bridge is carrying more than it's designed load. We suspect that it would be very difficult to find a bridge that wasn't carrying far more than the expected traffic. Oddly enough, cars and light vans do very little damage to roads or bridges. Almost all of the damage comes from heavy goods vehicles, and they were exempt from the toll increase!
PS. The story was also in next day's paper:- The Scotsman - "Traffic wrecking Forth road bridge"
1 May 2005
May Day Toll Increase
Tom Minogue, founder of Fifers Against Toll Increases, issued this to mark the day:-
"It must be the supreme irony that on the long standing Socialist/Labour movement holiday that the
Labour party dominated Scottish Executive chooses to increase the tolls on the Forth Road Bridge.
This move which is limited to private cars (FETA would not pick on road hauliers lest they incur a Grangemouth type
picket) will hurt those least able to pay.
Those unfortunate people on low fixed income or state benefit will pay through the nose. Industry will be put off coming to a County where toll booth congestion and transport cost is prohibitive, so again the workers and the unemployed will suffer.
Adding hypocrisy to irony is the fact that exactly 20 years ago in 1985 the tolls were under threat of an increase from the Tory Government of the day. The objectors at the Public Inquiry which considered the proposed increase consisted almost entirely of Labour politicians headed by Gordon Brown MP (a resident of North Queensferry). The objectors were unsuccessful and the tolls were increased by the Tories in 1986.
20 years on Gordon is too busy justifying the billions spent on an illegal war in Iraq in support of the multinational oil companies to consider the poor people of Fife who are going to have to stump up for a 25% increase in the tolls.
Given that the road tax revenue collected by our canny chancellor (chancer-llor?) exceed expenditure on roads by over £30 billion, might it not be reasonable to expect the upkeep costs of a bridge long since paid for to come from this source?
Gordon would now no doubt argue that the road tax surpluses are needed for other things, such as defence spending, but surely he could forgo the price of a few tonnes of cluster bombs or a few cruise missiles in order to give his Fife constituents a break?"
30 April 2005
Forth Toll Increase Takes effect
The toll increase takes effect tomorrow:- BBC - "Bigger bills for Forth crossing"
This unnecessary increase shows the direction the politicians will go in, if they are not stopped.
More on Another Forth Bridge
The Evening News reports that FETA's decision on another bridge was almost a tie, with Fife councillors wanting it, and Edinburgh councillors opposed. There is also speculation that tolls might cost up to £3:- Evening News - "Warning of £3 tolls as drivers fork out for new Forth bridge"
It seems odd that Edinburgh councillors may get to stop the new bridge, when most of those who would use it live in Fife and are not going to Edinburgh.
If a new bridge does cost £700 million on top of all the other money that FETA wants to spend, and it is all paid for from tolls, then in our opinion the toll on the old and new bridge would have to be at least £10. And who would use it then?
29 April 2005
Another Forth Bridge?
FETA, the local authority that controls the Forth road bridge have decided to build another bridge, at an estimated cost of £700 million:- BBC - "Vote favours 'new Forth Bridge'"
But don't hold your breath waiting for the bridge to be built. It will be strongly opposed by the Greenies. It also looks as if the Scottish Executive are not too keen.
Britain is not very good at building roads, whether they cross water or not! We take forever to reach a decision. And they cost a lot more than they do abroad.
The increased cost will partly be due to private financing, partly because the bridge would be "multi modal", i.e. it would carry trains or trams. Subsidised of course by the Tolls extorted from roads users.
PS. Editorial in the next day's paper shows that the Scotsman group believe that it would be better for Scotland (or at least Edinburgh) if a new bridge is not built:- Evening News - "Fife is desperate to stimulate economic activity in the region"
A8000 Rip off
The Scottish Executive have agreed to pay £24 million of the estimated £35 million cost of the A8000 improvement:-
Evening News - "£35m road cleared to tackle bottleneck"
At last December's Inquiry, FETA said that the cost of the A8000 road could now be ignored as they had asked the Executive to pay for it.
We are pleased to see that they are making a contribution, but it appears that users of the Forth road bridge will have to pay £11 million.
This strategic road should be paid for from the £40 billion a year roads taxes. This is an £11 million rip off which will use up five years worth of the recent toll increase.
23 April 2005
SKAT wound up
Skye and Kyleakin Against Tolls had their final meeting today.
They have set up a trust to publish a history of their long and successful struggle to stop the Skye Bridge Tolls.
Their web site was maintained by Ray Shields and has been "archived" on the notolls web site:- Skye and Kyle Against Tolls.
21 April 2005
Forth Bridge Tolls - Increase confirmed
Following leaks, the toll increase on Forth Bridge is now official:- BBC - "Forth Bridge toll rise confirmed"
The Scotsman - "Objector fails to block toll increase to £1 for Forth toll"
The Herald - "Forth bridge safety barriers 'below standard'"
You can see further details on Scotland page.
20 April 2005
Forth Bridge Tolls - Another Threat
The bridge authority say that the barriers on the Forth road bridge may need to be replaced:- Evening News - "Alarm raised over bridge crash barrier"
We hope that the authority carry out a full risk analysis before major disruption is caused to the traffic on the bridge. What is the probability and cost of an accident, compared with the risk and disruption cost of any work?
We also hope that if work does go ahead then it is not used as another excuse for perpetuating the bridge tolls.
We fear that the authorities are managing the news in advance of revealing a toll increase.
18 April 2005
Forth Bridge Tolls - New Threat
There is apparently a "funding row over improving the A8000 link with Forth road bridge....... A judicial review and public inquiry into tolls on the Forth Road Bridge have scuppered any chance of FETA starting work on the A8000 until they receive permission to raise the tolls by 20p to help fund the upgrade.":- Evening News - "Cash drought slams brakes on motorway link to bridge"
NAAT was present at the December 2004 Inquiry into proposed toll increase. One of the objections to the increase was
that the money was to be used to fund non bridge schemes, such as the A8000, that should be funded by the Executive. FETA (who run the bridge) then told the Inquiry that the A8000 scheme had been withdrawn from their programme and they had asked the Executive to finance it.
It is very odd that this story should appear now. Scotland's remaining bridge tolls should be being scrapped and not used to finance road schemes that are essential for Scotland's economy.
15 April 2005
Scottish Executive delay Tolls review
The Scottish Executive today announced "A public consultation into the future management of Scotland's tolled bridges":- Scottish Executive - "Future management of toll bridges"
Evening Times - "Hopes raised bridge tolls are to be scrapped"
Evening Telegraph - "Views sought on road bridge tolls"
A review of bridge tolls was first announced in May 2003, when a "Partnership for a Better Scotland" was published. A year later the minister, Nicol Stephen, told MSPs that he expected an early result from the bridge tolls review. We have since had the infamous Skye bridge tolls removed, but there has been no decision on the other tolls.
The tolls are unfair and damage the local economies. The Erskine bridge toll is particularly iniquitous as the bridge has been paid for several times over and the Executive is holding a reserve of £20 million.
All the tolls should be scrapped without further procrastination by the Executive.
It would be reassuring if the headline in the Evening Times was correct, but the reality seems to be the opposite.
No so Fine
The Scottish Executive wants lone drivers crossing the Forth bridge to pay even higher tolls:- Evening News - "'Fine' plan for lone drivers on the bridge"
The Scotsman - "Drive at the double to beat jams on Scotland's bridges"
The worst of this is that Nicol Stephen is delaying decision on tolls on the 3 bridges, and "has already made clear abolishing tolls on the remaining bridges - the Forth, Tay and Erskine - is not on the cards".
The Evening News quotes two tolls advocates and two against:-
"Ivor Birnie, 49, bar manager, Holyrood Court: "The toll should have been scrapped by now. I think motorists get charged enough. The Forth Road Bridge is a major link between Edinburgh and the north of Scotland, and we should not have to pay to travel across it."
Jim Taylor, 52, taxi driver, The Murrays Brae, Gracemount: "I don't think we should have to pay to cross. The bridge is part of the national network. We were told the tolls would only last as long as it took to cover the costs of building the bridge, but subsequent politicians failed to honour that commitment."
11 April 2005
Skye Bridge campaign to end -
SKAT (Skye and Kyle Against Tolls) are to have their final meeting on Saturday 23rd April. They intend to set up a trust to write a history of their long, bitter and eventually successful struggle.
- But Arguments Continue
SKAT campaigners who said that they would not pay tolls were treated as criminals with some of them going to gaol. One of their arguments had been that not only were the tolls unfair they were also illegal.
Under the Freedom Of Information (Scotland) Act, some secret documents have now been made public. They seem to confirm that there was no legal authority for the way the tolls were collected:- The Herald - "Secret letters cast doubt on Skye bridge toll's legality"
27 March 2005
Spin is coming out of the Scottish Executive to scare motorists into accepting Tolls. They are threatened that they will have to accept tolls on most roads or face "Gridlock":- Sunday Mail - "Gridlock Scotland"
We need better roads, not tolls. The drivers interviewed for the Mail story, blame congestion on road works. In order to avoid spending, any road works are usually piecemeal and dragged out.
22 March 2005
Skye Bridge traffic up
BBC reports that 2,223 vehicles crossed the Skye bridge last month compared with 1,623 in February 2004 - a 37% increase following the removal of the Tolls.
The traffic figures are low, but we think they should have said "daily"! Either way, hopefully there will be a lot more tourists visiting Skye during the summer.
3 February 2005
Threat of Higher Tolls on Forth & Tay
The Scottish Executive is reviewing Scotland's 3 remaining tolls. It has been thought that they will all be scrapped, but it now seems that the Executive may be planning to keep tolls and increase them for cars with only one occupant.
Helen Eadie, Dunfermline East MSP, said:- "If tolls are removed on the Skye Bridge not yet paid for, what equity and justice is there in continuing to demand tolls for those bridges in Scotland where they have been completely paid for over and over and over again?"
Scottish Tory transport spokesman David Mundell said, "This is nothing short of a plan to take more cash from Scotland's motorists who already pay the highest fuel duties and taxes in Europe." Dundee Evening Telegraph - "Higher road bridge tolls plan for lone drivers"
Courier - "Lone drivers could face higher road bridge tolls"
The Leader in the Courier said:-
Relatively low revenue from tolls on the Tay when traffic is light at night is almost certainly offset by collection costs. Ending tolls at night might therefore be sensible. It could be a first step towards scrapping tolls at Dundee.
From an economic point of view, what is good for the island of Skye is good for estuary-girt Fife."
27 January 2005
More on Plea to end Erskine Bridge Tolls
Following yesterday's plea from the West Dunbartonshire Council leader to the Transport minister. There were calls today from Renfrewshire Council for the tolls to be scrapped:- Evening Times - "New call to end bridge tolls"
26 January 2005
Tay Bridge Toll Booths
Dundee MSP Marlyn Glen asks the Scottish Executive to support the move of the toll booths on the Tay bridge:- Dundee Evening Telegraph - "Bridge toll booth move up to board"
Would it not be better for an MSP to ask for the toll booths to be removed not moved.
Plea to end Erskine Bridge Tolls
The Evening Times in Glasgow reports that the West Dunbartonshire Council leader met the Transport minister in Edinburgh. There were 6 reasons given for scrapping tolls on the Erskine Bridge:- financial, legal, economic, environmental, social reasons, and lastly that lack of public transport on the bridge, due to tolls, has increased congestion on the route into Glasgow.
7 January 2005
Erskine Bridge profit
Scottish papers report that "last year" the Erskine Bridge made a profit of £1 million for the Scottish Executive who "own" the bridge. The figure comes from annual accounts published yesterday.
We have not seen those figures but we do know that the bridge cost £11 million to build and that up to the end of 2004, the tolls collected would be about £82 million. Some would say that this was more than a fair profit, and that the Scottish Parliament should free the people of West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire from this imposition without further delay.
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.
Bizarrely 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"
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