National Alliance Against Tolls - Scotland Tolls News 2007 & 2008
SCOTLAND TOLLS NEWS 2007 & 2008 (up to March)
main Scotland page
Scotland News 2006 Edinburgh Toll Poll "News"
The last tolls were removed in February 2008, and any stories about north of the border after March 2008 are on our main news pages.
Tuesday 25 March 2008
Skye campaigners and their fight for justice - BBC - "Anti-tolls group in funding plea".
More chaos - BBC - "Delay while bridge bus lane built".
Tuesday 18 March 2008
Canopy going down - Courier - "Tolls removal work at Forth on schedule".
Friday 14 March 2008
Letter from the alliance in the Courier - "Don’t re-introduce bridge tolls via road pricing".
Thursday 13 March 2008
A Labour MSP moans about the removal of tolls which she blames for problems with high sided vehicles - Courier - "Incident stirs up row over bridge traffic restrictions" BBC - "MSP calls for bridge wind changes". Isn't it amazing that other toll free bridges manage, and in any case the two incidents occured due to "freak" winds when there were no restrictions in place and even if there had been the lorry was travelling southbound where there have no toll barriers since 1997 and on top of that the first incident occurred while the tolls were in place.
Forth refunds - Courier - "Toll drivers still owed £300,000".
Wednesday 12 March 2008
Forth refunds - BBC - "Motorists urged to reclaim tolls".
Tuesday 11 March 2008
Strike warning - Evening News - "Forth Road Bridge workers eye strike vote".
On the Tay bridge the Courier reports that the lane closure will continue to October and though members of the bridge board asked about the effect of tolls removal on traffic flow they were not given an answer - "Bridge works near end-but start soon".
Monday 10 March 2008
The Courier has a short letter today from Judi Martin. She says - "Am I right in thinking there has never been a period with so many days of speed restrictions and closures on the Forth and Tay bridges, as there has been over the last six months? Winds of change, indeed." A new group has been set up to represent users of the Forth and Tay bridges. They have a website including surveys on delays -
Tuesday 4 March 2008
Courier - "New bridge, same problem" last letter.
Saturday 1 March 2008
Courier - "Park-and-ride plan for Tay". Park and Ride is a good idea. But the suggestion of special lanes for high-occupancy vehicles is nothing but a blatant attempt to create congestion.
Another report that the Forth road bridge will not be falling down soon after all - Courier - "Forth Road Bridge ‘could last for years’".
Friday 29 February 2008
Problem with high sided vehicles - Scotsman - "No tolls . . so no stopping high vehicles" second letter. We wonder how they manage on the millions of untolled bridges round the world?
The FETA Convener inspects the cables - Courier - "Bridge officials confident of success".
Courier - "Salute for Courier tolls campaign".
Thursday 28 February 2008
More tales of increased traffic - Scotsman - "35,000 more drivers use Forth Road Bridge in first toll-free week".
Tuesday 26 February 2008
A letter suggesting height barriers on bridge approaches - Scotsman - "Put barriers on bridges".
Monday 25 February 2008
Believe it or not - Evening News - "Doomed £5m tollbooth canopy in line for major design award".
Yesterday the Scotsman's Sunday paper was telling their readers of the congestion caused by removing tolls, today we are told of new speed limits and cameras in order to reduce traffic speeds! Scotsman - "Road bridge to get speed cameras – and limit may be cut to 40mph".
Sunday 24 February 2008
Tales of congestion - Scotland on Sunday - "Scrapping bridge toll adds half an hour to road misery across the Forth" Evening News - "Beware of vengeful pro-toll operators" second letter.
Saturday 23 February 2008
Blowing hot air - Courier - "Switch-on for bridge dry-out operation".
FETA's new boss in the Evening News - "Challenges on the road ahead for bridge". A few years back he was reported as arguing that the tolls should be kept. Let's hope that he doesn't miss the tolls too much!
Thursday 21 February 2008
Letter in the Evening News from an Edinburgh man who wanted to keep tolls, does not want a new bridge and if one is built then he wants it to be a tunnel for trains - "Don't build a monument to the past".
Progress on new Kincardine bridge - Courier - "Final move bridges estuary".
Tuesday 19 February 2008
Short but sweet - Scotsman letter - "Bridge".
Monday 18 February 2008
From the Courier - "No return this year of cross-Forth hovercraft" "Gale damage set to delay bridge painting".
Friday 15 February 2008
From the Courier - "Bridge cable failure could cost £1 billion" "Is it really necessary?" 3rd letter.
A dubious honour! Arbroath Herald - "ARBROATH STUDENT LAST TO PAY A TAY TOLL".
Thursday 14 February 2008
Praise for the Courier campaign - Hold the Front Page - "Newspaper celebrates two-year fight for free roads" Allmedia Scotland - "Courier Celebrates Tolls Victory in Style".
In Fife Free Press - "Cross Forth and Tay bridges for free".
Reply to the letter ruing the end of tolls - "Bridge funding is not unique" 5th letter.
Repair work on the bridge - Courier - "Bridging gap to keep Forth traffic moving" BBC - "Mini-ramps to help bridge traffic".
On a new Forth bridge - Evening News - "Preparations begin for new £4.2bn bridge" Scotsman - "Work to pave way for new £4.2bn Forth road bridge begins".
Wednesday 13 February 2008
Another letter in the Courier ruing the end of tolls - "Tolls provided some revenue" 3rd letter.
Also from the Courier - "Call for clarity on condition of cables" "Land surveys for new Forth bridge to start".
Tuesday 12 February 2008
The day after-
- From the Courier - "Smooth start for most at toll-free crossings" "Public salutes end of an era" "Campaigner realises dream".
- and two letters, one thanking the Courier for their major part in the camapign, the other prophesying doom - "Thanks for campaign help" and "General public not behind it".
- From other papers, including the Scotsman group who campaigned to keep the tolls and must now be hoping that the Forth bridge authority manages to engineer continuing congestion to keep the barbarians out - Evening News - "'How do they plan to pay for a new bridge?'" Daily Record - "Motorists Take Advantage Of Toll-Free Bridges" Scotsman - "Roadworks put brakes on drivers' first toll-free crossing of bridge" Herald - "Traffic flows as last bridge tolls in Scotland scrapped" Scotsman Opinion - "No tolls - and we're paying for it" Arbroath Herald - "Toll-free traffic flows freely".
Monday 11 February 2008
Scotland is at last free of tolls as the Act abolishing them came into force at midnight last night
- NAATS Press Release.
- From the Courier - "Free at last! Drivers say farewell to bridge tolls" "Alliance delight after long fight" "‘Great day’ heralds a fresh start".
- Some of the limited reports from outside of Fife and Tayside - Evening News - "Drivers hail first toll-free day of crossing Forth bridge" Evening Times - "Joy for drivers on toll-free bridges" Scotsman - "Congestion alert as bridge tolls scrapped". The BBC made a splash of it - "Scotland becomes toll-road free".
Later report - Evening Telegraph - "Toll-free Tay Road Bridge racetrack". And one on American website - newspaper.com - "Scotland Abolishes Tolls".
Letter in Courier about cause of delay on Forth bridge approaches - "Delay caused by new layout" 3rd letter.
Saturday 9 February 2008
Tom Minogue our alliance's main spokesman in Scotland tells Gary Fitzpatrick of the Dunfermline Press how it really was - "Poll and tolls".
From Evening News - "Warning of bridge delays as toll removal brings confusion".
From Evening Telegraph - "First free crossing down to luck".
From Courier - "Ferry bell sounds end of tolls" "Monday D-Day for new bridgemaster" "Hopes of reduced traffic congestion".
Friday 8 February 2008
Courier - "Frustration for drivers at bridge" Falkirk Herald - "End of tolls 'could end bridge jams'" BBC - "Bridge tolls' demolition begins".
Letter in Courier - "Rewriting of history?".
Thursday 7 February 2008
The authorities say why the traffic going on to the Tay bridge will be restricted when the tolls go - Courier - "Removal of Forth toll booths starts".
Wednesday 6 February 2008
The authorities say why the traffic going on to the Tay bridge will be restricted when the tolls go - Courier - "Two single lanes for bridge approach". Traffic needs to merge at some point, but we hope that this is not an attempt to engineer congestion.
Tuesday 5 February 2008
From Courier - "Seeking buyers for Forth bridge booths".
Two letters in the Courier. "Ulterior motive?" expresses concern that the authorities are engineering continued congestion on the Tay bridge. "Bridge users should pay" wants the tolls kept!!
Saturday 2 February 2008
Following Thursday's story about "u-turn" and the suggestion that FETA has been backing the removal of tolls since the Erskine bridge tolls were removed, here is the recent series of events:-
1 March 2006 - Announcement by the Minister that the Erskine bridge tolls would be removed before the end of the month. The Minister
at the same time rejected an application from FETA for tolls of up to £4 in peak periods.
20 March 2006 - The minutes of FETA meeting show that they were disappointed about the rejection of the toll increase proposal and
also records that the "Scottish Executive Ministers had, following a request by the Authority, extended the tolling period for the
bridge." The Forth tolls had otherwise been due to end in March.
30 March 2006 - A motion by Shona Robison to remove the Tay tolls was debated (the motion did not mention the Forth tolls). The MSPs
instead called for another "study" of the tolls.
16 August 2006 - FETA made their submission to the new study. They did not ask for the tolls to be removed. Instead they warned of
congestion and environmental damage if the tolls were lifted. They also said that they believed that their recommendations for the
package that included the £4 tolls was "still valid".
16 May 2007 - SNP form a new Government after promising (as did the Tories) in the election campaign that they would abolish all
1 June 2007 - FETA agreed a motion submitted by SNP Councillor Chapman which said that FETA "supports the initiative announced by
the Scottish Government which seeks to remove tolls".
Friday 1 February 2008
From Courier - "Fury that lorry caused ‘standstill’" on Forth bridge.
Thursday 31 January 2008
More on the last day for tolls (Sunday 10th February) - Courier - "End to tolls burden welcomed" Courier - "Convener’s ‘irresponsible’ U-turn".
Wednesday 30 January 2008
The last day for tolls will be Sunday 10th February - Courier - "Tolls off on February 11" Courier - "Removal of bridge tolls hailed"
BBC - "End date for road bridges' tolls".
Saturday 26 January 2008
Report of yesterday's meeting of Tay bridge board - Courier - "Last days of tolls on Tay Bridge".
Friday 25 January 2008
The Aboliton of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Act got the royal assent yesterday (24th). We now have to wait for the Minister to "sign" the Order setting the date when the Act will come into force - i.e. when the tolls will at last be removed.
Wednesday 23 January 2008
Follow up to Saturday's story - Courier - "MSP calls for update on road bridge".
Tuesday 22 January 2008
Letter in the Courier - "Let us stick with a bridge".
Saturday 19 January 2008
Now that a new bridge has been agreed, the prospect that the old Forth road bridge will have to be closed seems to be disappearing in the mist - Courier - "Salmond gives hope to hauliers".
Friday 18 January 2008
BBC - "Bridge ban for lorries 'delayed'" on Forth road bridge.
Thursday 17 January 2008
BBC - "Bridge wires snap 'one a month'" on Forth road bridge.
A couple of letters in the Courier. "Bridge not the answer" is from a cyclist who instead of another Forth crossing wants more trains for those who travel with their push bikes. "Would extra piers not help?" suggests that the ailing road bridge be propped up!
Wednesday 16 January 2008
Courier - "Preparing for toll removal" on Tay bridge.
Monday 14 January 2008
Courier - "Why not a tunnel?" (3rd letter).
Saturday 12 January 2008
Now that a new Forth Crossing has been agreed the forecast closure of the existing road bridge is being reviewed - Courier - "New bridge brings rethink on closure".
Friday 11 January 2008
More on Forth bridge closure - Courier - "Bridge closure shows need for new crossing".
Thursday 10 January 2008
Forth bridge closed - Courier - "Bridge closures hit commuters" BBC - "Chaos as Forth Road Bridge closes".
Saturday 5 January 2008
The Guardian has a comment piece - "If it caters only for cars, the new Forth bridge is a road to nowhere". The reality is that the vast bulk of the "estimated" cost of the new crossing is to pay the mega bills of UK contractors and because it assumes that the crossing will NOT be for road vehicles only.
Friday 4 January 2008
Robbie the Pict is pressing the case for the 130 anti toll campaigners on Skye who were given criminal convictions - Press & Journal - "SKYE BRIDGE CAMPAIGNERS IN PLEA TO JUSTICE MINISTER".
From yesterday's Evening News - "Warning of hold-ups after tolls removal". We agree that traffic has to be monitored and that there may have to be changes where traffic lanes merge. But if the intention of this story is to give the impression that there will be a significant traffic increase then we believe that the figures will prove them wrong.
Monday 31 December 2007
The Evening News has an interview with the leader of the group that campaigned for tolls and against a new Forth Crossing - "Ten Questions". The campaign (whose backers include the Civic Trust, RSPB, and WWF), has for some reason been very quiet over the last year or two.
Sunday 30 December 2007
A report on Forth cable breaks - Courier - Boxing Day - "Number of bridge wire breakages not known". Based on the story, it seems that since they installed the monitoring system they have averaged one new wire break each month. This sounds alarming but at that rate it would be 200 years before the breaks reached 10 per cent of the wires.
A report on naming the Kincardine bridge - Courier - 27th - "Bridge name would be fit for a kingdom". In our view it should be "A Bridge Too Small".
Saturday 22 December 2007
The Evening News printed a few words from our press release on Thursday - "Protesters hail road tolls axe".
Friday 21 December 2007
More on yesterday's tolls vote -
Courier - "Tolls will be gone in six weeks" Courier - "Fife has been imprisoned by tolls—Lib Dem MSP" Courier - "Sense of unfairness united all sides" BBC last night - "MSPs vote to scrap bridge tolls" Transport News Network - "Scottish Tolls Vote".
The Scotsman and most other papers have, unlike the Courier, campaigned to keep the tolls and they seem to have chosen to ignore yesterday's vote.
Official Report of the tolls debate. The one "abstention" on the vote was Margaret Smith an Edinburgh Liberal Democrat. The three votes against came from Margo MacDonald and from the two Greens - Patrick Harvie and Robin Harper.
Thursday 20 December 2007
The Scottish Parliament have passed (at 4.30 this afternoon) their first Bill - to abolish the last two of Scotland's tolls - on the Forth and Tay bridges. The voting was 122 for, 3 against, and 1 abstention. The Bill now awaits the Royal Assent with the tolls expected to go at the end of January.
We issued this press release-
We warmly welcome the result of today's vote by MSPs and thank the 122 MSPs who suported tolls abolition. They have made the right
decision, though if you listened to the debates in the Parliament and the Committee over the last few months much of what was said
by the MSPs and the "experts" was negative. We believe that the forecasts of the effect of tolls removal on traffic were
All the parties have voted for the Bill, but it is only right that it is primarily the SNP that should be thanked. Those of us who
have campaigned against Scotland's tolls for many years have not forgotten that the SNP was the only party that in September 2001
voted against the reintroduction of the Erskine bridge tolls.
The Fife and Tayside MSPs have of course supported the removal of tolls, and a few went so far as to actively campaign for it! But
we would particularly like to thank Tricia Marwick for her determined efforts to rid Fife and Tayside of tolls.
Many of the MSPs have praised the role of the Courier in getting the Forth and Tay tolls removed, and we endorse that. Without the
Courier campaign many of the MSPs would have ignored the issue.
Tolls in Scotland were last abolished in an Act of 1878 - the Roads and Bridges (Scotland) Act 1878 - which said that "all highways shall be open to the public free of tolls and other exactions". We hope that this time the abolition of tolls will be permanent and that Scotland can use the freedom from tolls
to promote inward investment and tourism.
Decision on new Forth crossing - BBC - "New bridge to be built over Forth" Courier - "‘Iconic’ new bridge the answer to Forth crisis" (there are links to three other stories on the left) Scotsman - "A £4bn bridge it is - now let's get on with it".
Official Report including the statement from John Swinney.
Wednesday 19 December 2007
According to the papers a decision will be announced today on a new Forth crossing - Courier - "Cabinet reaches decision on Forth crossing" Scotsman - "Bridge beats tunnel in crossing race" Herald - "Swinney to reveal plan for new Forth crossing".
From the Courier - "Councils pushing for hovercraft service" between Kirkcaldy and Leith.
Tuesday 18 December 2007
A story about the Tay bridge toll booths which says that the date of tolls removal will be announced on Thursday - Courier - "Bridge toll plaza to go ‘by March’".
From the Courier "Closure signs are too confusing" on the Tay road bridge.
Saturday 15 December 2007
Courier - "New link cuts out queues on road bridge". No surprises with this story. A pity that the trolls have managed to spin out and delay the removal of the tolls, which is the main cause of the congestion going north.
Courier - "Festive break for Tay bridge roadworks".
Thursday 13 December 2007
Tay toll booths to go - Courier - "Demolition looms for toll plaza".
Monday 10 December 2007
Letter in the Courier about the mega cost of a new Forth crossing - "What are they budgeting for?".
Friday 30 November 2007
From the Courier - "Suspect identified for bridge bomb hoax". We are not often of one mind with FETA, but we think that their decision to search but not close the bridge was the correct one.
Thursday 29 November 2007
Work on the new bridge at Kincardine is well under way - "Bid to name new bridge". A suitable name would be "The Lost Opportunity bridge". A bridge with bigger capacity could have been built at little extra cost or disturbance.
Following the announcement in March 2006 that the two tolls would be kept, we made Freedom of Information Act requests for some of the congestion data. We wanted to know the instructions that had been given to those preparing the data and we wanted the congestion data for the PM peak. (Traffic data for AM peak, interpeak and PM peak was available, but for congestion only the AM peak was available.) The Scottish Information Commissioner has now made his decision.
In brief, he has ordered that the instructions be released (but the Ministers have 45 days to comply). But the Commissioner has turned down our request for the PM congestion forecasts. It has been turned down because the information was "either exempt under section 25(1) of FOISA or not held". In other words we can't have it because either the information is already available to us or it does not exist. In this case the latter applies - whatever claims may be made by those who want to keep the tolls, there are no figures available for predicted PM congestion effects.
We had thought that the PM peak congestion data probably did not exist, but the Executive were reluctant to say so. If the PM data had existed and had taken into account the effect of removing the delays caused by the tolls, then the results should have shown congestion reducing.
We have sent out a message to all the MSPs about this as many of them appeared to accept the claims that removal of tolls would mean a significant increase in congestion.
Thursday 22 November 2007
From today's Courier - "Bridge poised for end to tolls".
Wednesday 21 November 2007
Over the last week there has been a controversy in the letters pages of the Scotsman as to whether FETA and other quangos should be trusted with a new Forth Crossing, part of the argument has been about whether or not it was quick at investigating the question of cable corrosion. This is the position up to yesterday, but it may not be over yet! 20th - "Leaky tunnel argument" 19th - "FETA should not be so quick to blow its own trumpet on bridge management" 16th - "FETA's spin" 14th - "FETA ahead of the game" 12th - "History of failure holds little hope for link".
Tuesday 20 November 2007
Some of the other recent reports on the work to be done on Forth road bridge expansion joints - Scotsman - "Drivers face three months of 24-hour bridge chaos" BBC - "Forth bridge road misery forecast".
Three for the price of one in the Courier - "Misery ahead for bridge traffic" "Cable report due before year end" "Now second cross-Forth link mooted".
Saturday 17 November 2007
Report in last night's Evening News on the two Edinburgh Lib Dem MSPs who abstained during the vote on the Abolition of Tolls Bill - "City MSPs refuse to back tolls abolition". Many other Lib Dem MSPs did vote for the bill, though there were quite a few who didn't even turn up for the debate or vote.
Friday 16 November 2007
Yesterday's debate on the Abolition of Tolls Bill - Parliament - Official Report Courier - "MSPs back Courier’s campaign to end tolls". For some reason the Scotsman did not bother to report the debate on this historic bill - the first to be placed before Parliament by the SNP.
A bit of older history - Courier - "Bridge restoration work uncovers lost tollhouse".
Thursday 15 November 2007
MSPs debated the Abolition of Tolls Bill this afternon - BBC - "MSPs to vote to axe bridge tolls". Despite repeated misgivings, the MSPs again backed the Bill though not unanimously. On motion 780 - "That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill" - 107 voted for with 4 against and 2 abstentions.
Comments from MSPs included this from Tricia Marwick - "This is the first SNP Government bill through Parliament and I congratulate the Government on starting with a bill of such importance. Scrapping tolls on the Forth and Tay Bridges marks the fulfilment of a promise I made and the SNP made to people across Fife and Tayside....".
Monday 12 November 2007
The Evening News has another piece on the tolls canopy - "Residents back demolition of tolls canopy". When the piece was in the EN last Tuesday, one of those commenting said of the plaza and barriers - "Leaving them in place, and maintaining them to a decent level would ensure they are present for future use if required." A very good reason for making sure that the whole lot goes - a.s.a.p.
The Scotsman has a piece on Forth road bridge - "History of failure holds little hope for link". The writers may have correctly given an account of the problems of the Forth bridge over the last 8 years or so, but they may not have arrived at the correct conclusions. The Scotsman report says that traffic crossing the bridge will soon grow from 75,000 vehicles a day to 100,000, "mostly in the (morning) rush hour" - The facts are that the average daily traffic (including weekends) is 33,000 vehicles each way and there are no signs of this increasing. The report also says that a crossing must have rail - This might be nice, but the fact is that the existing rail bridge is not in the sorry state that the road bridge is claimed to be, and including provision for rail would almost double the costs.
Thursday 8 November 2007
Courier report on yesterday's story about the committee of MSPs endorsing the Tolls Abolition Bill - "Support for scrapping “unfair” tolls".
Wednesday 7 November 2007
The committee of MSPs looking at the Tolls Abolition Bill today endorsed it, albeit that many of them were reluctant to do so - BBC - "MSPs support bridge tolls removal" Midlothian Advertiser - "Ministers debate scrapping toll" Edinburgh Evening News - "MSPs warn end of tolls will worsen pollution".
Those livid at the news include the editor of the Evening News. The Scotsman group papers had campaigned to keep tolls, they seem to prefer to keep those north of the Forth at a distance - Edinburgh Evening News - "'Taxpayers will bear the cost of bridge toll axe'".
The abolition of the tolls was proposed by the SNP and got 100% backing from the Scottish Tories. The party that seems to be most upset that the tolls will go is the Lib Dems.
Scottish Parliament - today's report.
Tuesday 6 November 2007
It is reported that the tolls canopy will go - let's hope that the FETA members agree this - Evening News - "Bell tolls for bridge canopy".
Wednesday 31 October 2007
Since their public evidence session on the 3rd, things appear to have gone quiet with the committee of MSPs who are considering the Bill to abolish the tolls. There have however been two further meetings of the Committee - on the 23rd and yesterday. The meetings were held in private but they were discussing their "Stage 1 Report on the Bill", and have apparently now agreed their report. We don't know what it will say, but assume that they will have agreed to the principle of the Bill and that they will now move to "Stage 2", which is detailed consideration of the Bill, by the same committee! Even if no MSP tries to torpedo the process, it may drag out past the end of the year.
Monday 29 October 2007
The Herald continues with its campaign to toll Scotland - "The £1bn cost of our commuting horror".
Friday 26 October 2007
From the Courier - "Go-ahead for Forth hover crossing".
A letter in the Courier about the aesthetics of the Tay bridge - (fourth letter).
Thursday 25 October 2007
A letter in the Evening News from a resident of the Stoneyflatts estate that overlooks the Tolls plaza - (second letter). NAATS believes that the canopy should be removed as soon as possible. Leaving it is like leaving the gallows in a gaol after capital punishment has been abolished, and makes one wonder about the motives for this.
Tuesday 23 October 2007
Reports that despite the end of toll collection on the Tay bridge, there will be no compulsory redundances and, at least initially, little reduction in staff numbers - Courier - "Bridge staffing costs to top £1m" BBC - "Quarter of jobs axed with tolls".
Friday 19 October 2007
Courier - "Listed status would not delay bridge demolition". We very much hope that the stories about demolition of the bridge are being very pessimistic. But if the bridge does have to be demolished, will we ever be told how it came to pass?
Wednesday 17 October 2007
Courier - "End in sight for bridge repairs" on Forth.
Tuesday 16 October 2007
Another Courier reader suggests a tunnel under the Forth - third letter.
Thursday 11 October 2007
The Evening News is so upset that Scotland may be toll free that in last night's editorial attacking "consensus politics" they could not resist referring to - "the senseless removal of tolls from the Forth Road Bridge".
Today's Scotsman also has some gloomy news - "Bridge tolls to stay until end of January".
Tuesday 9 October 2007
A Courier reader suggests a tidal barrage across the Forth, with a road on top - fourth letter.
Saturday 5 October 2007
Group that say that a new bridge is not needed - Courier - "Campaigners’ road bridge claim rejected".
Suggestion that the A9000 delay has just moved - fourth letter.
Official report of Tuesday the 2nd's meeting of the committee looking at tolls abolition. Note that the discussion on the first item (Finance & Sustainable Growth) included questions on tolling of existing and new Forth road bridges.
Thursday 4 October 2007
Another report on new road - Courier - "M9 spur makes bottleneck A8000 history".
Two letters in last night's Evening Telegraph - second and third letters.
Wednesday 3 October 2007
Road now officially open - BBC - "M9 link fully opens to vehicles" Scotsman - "Rush-hour relief for drivers as new bridge link opens".
As expected the Transport Committee yesterday gave Stewart Stevenson a rough ride over the Abolition of Bridge Tolls Bill - Courier - "Tolls plan to remove ‘unfair tax’ defended".
The Committee also quizzed John Swinney on the new bridge - Scotsman - "Tolls not ruled out as means of paying for new Forth crossing".
Tuesday 2 October 2007
Suggestion that two Forth road bridges would cause traffic problems - Courier - "Forth road bridges ‘chaos’ warning".
The Transport Committee meets this afternoon to continue hearing evidence on the Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill. They will be grilling Stewart Stevenson, the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.
Monday 1 October 2007
From this morning's Courier - "Campaign Case for Abolition of Bridge tolls".
Sunday 30 September 2007
Edinburgh City Council does not want a new Forth Road bridge - Sunday Herald - "Second Forth road crossing will be an ‘economic and environmental disaster’".
Saturday 29 September 2007
Letter in yesterday's Courier complaining that a new Forth Road bridge will not include "heavy rail" - (third letter).
Thursday 27 September 2007
Official report of Tuesday's meeting of the committee looking at tolls abolition.
A letter from Tom Minogue in the Evening News about the toll collectors - (first letter).
A reply to yesterday's letter in the Herald from Tom Minogue - "Keep the tolls". The writer wants bridge tolls and / or congestion charges, but presumably not in Dunblane!
Wednesday 26 September 2007
Letter in the Herald from Tom Minogue for NAATS reacting to the story about abuse of toll collectors - "Abuse at the tolls has nothing to do with campaign".
At yesterday's meeting of MSPs looking at the Abolition of Tolls Bill, nearly all the speakers were either in favour of tolls abolition or "agnostic", but the Scotsman mainly reports on the views of a Glasgow professor who wants them kept - "Congestion caused by scrapping tolls 'would hurt trade'". Later report in the Evening News - "Hauliers 'will not benefit' from tolls axe".
This morning's papers have the story that was on BBC yesterday - Courier - "Snub for MSPs on bridge tolls" Herald - "Transport chief angers MSPs over Forth tolls committee no-show".
This morning's Courier and last night's Evening News repeat the allegations that toll collectors are being abused, but this time it is on the Tay bridge - "Staff told to report taunting drivers" "Tay toll taunts".
Tuesday 25 September 2007
A brief report on this afternoon's committee - Midlothian today - "Bridge tolls 'unfair tax on Fife'".
A storm in a teapot? BBC - "Row brews over committee invite".
The Herald continues its campaign to keep the tolls. It highlights a story saying that "Toll collectors on the Forth Road Bridge are being verbally abused by drivers taunting them about job losses when the charges are scrapped". An unattributed source according to the Herald says the alleged abuse is an "unfortunate by-product of the campaign to remove the tolls" - "Drivers taunt Forth Road Bridge toll collectors over job losses".
PS Subsequent report in Evening News - "Drivers taunt toll collectors".
This verbal abuse story which the Herald must have jumped on with glee appears to have been started by an unlikely tolls ally - the Road Haulage Association, who are today one of the bodies giving evidence to the committee of MSPs that are looking at the Abolition of Tolls Bill. Their written submission starts by welcoming the abolition of the tolls and says that it believes that this will benefit the Fife economy. But as well as mentioning the verbal abuse the rest of the submission give the impression that the RHA do not care whether the tolls are removed or not, for example they say - "The cost for trucks is not a major issue and ... most were happy to pay." They also ask for lorries to be given lane priority over cars.
One puzzle is that according to the Evening News report, the drivers responsible for this unjustified abuse include RHA members. Are these the same drivers who also according to the RHA were "happy to pay" the tolls?
This is the written submission of NAATS to the Committee (pdf file)
Saturday 22 September 2007
From today's Courier - "Forth bridge roadworks to resume".
From yesterday's Courier a letter from George Blair of Blairgowrie on the removal of the tolls - fourth letter.
Thursday 20 September 2007
Letter from NAATS in the Courier on the issue of control of Forth road bridge traffic when the tolls are gone - last letter.
Wednesday 19 September 2007
More tolls pushing - Courier - "Environmentalists hit out at move on tolls" Herald - "Removal of bridge tolls condemned by green groups" Herald - "Truth about emissions" Evening News - "Green groups tell MSPs tolls cut will worsen pollution" Midlothian Today - "Green campaigners slam tolls plan".
Tuesday 18 September 2007
Report of Tay Bridge Board meeting in the Courier - "Tolls closure may not mean redundancies".
The Greens are still campaigning for tolls to be kept - ic group - "Greens oppose bridge tolls cut" Midlothian Today - "Greens oppose bridge tolls cut". As are other trolls - Herald - "Edinburgh fears scrapping of tolls".
Monday 17 September 2007
Report of Tay Bridge Board meeting in the Evening Telegraph - "Bridge tolls: few job losses expected".
In the Evening News - "Call to cut rail fares after tolls end" is made by Edinburgh Council to MSPs.
Two letters in the Courier on the issue of control of traffic on the Forth road bridge when the tolls are removed - first two letters.
Saturday 15 September 2007
The Courier reports that this weekend's work is cancelled due to weather - "Forth Road Bridge work cancelled".
Letter in the Courier about new crossing - third letter.
Friday 14 September 2007
Letter from Tom Minogue in yesterday's Courier - first letter.
More opposition to the removal of tolls in yesterday's Press & Journal - "CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT OVER TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS".
Wednesday 12 September 2007
Continuing opposition to the removal of tolls - Evening News - "Transport chiefs 'turn blind eye' to bridge problem" Courier - "50 jobs to go with ending of bridge tolls" Herald - "Challenge over impact of decision to remove bridge tolls" Scotsman - "Scrapping tolls 'won't cut lifespan of bridge'" BBC - "Concern over bridge staff morale".
Problems with Tay bridge - Courier - "Strict controls imposed on bridge works".
Tuesday 11 September 2007
The Greens are still toll pushing - Evening News - "Smart thinking is needed on bridge charges".
The Bill to abolish the tolls - BBC - "MSPs work to scrap bridge tolls".
Consultation on new Forth crossing - Courier - "Public response to Forth crossing".
Monday 10 September 2007
Two stories in the Courier - "Drill tests begin for tunnel option" "Delays for Forth bridge traffic". And a letter on the tunnel v. bridge question - 2nd letter - "Certainly not pseudo".
Saturday 8 September 2007
Two letters in the Courier replying to Thursday's letter "Why should we subsidise Fife bridge users?" - (last two letters).
The campaign to keep the tolls continues with the Director of the World Wildlife Fund demanding that they must be kept to stop it from raining!!
MSPs have invited people to give their comments on the Bill to abolish the tolls - Press & Journal - "MOVE TO SCRAP BRIDGE TOLLS COMES UNDER SCRUTINY OF MSPS".
Friday 7 September 2007
From Evening News - "Green alert on toll-axe plans".
According to an official, no decision has been made on tolling the new Forth bridge - Courier - "No decision yet on Forth crossing tolls".
Later version - Press & Journal - "TOLLS DECISION MAY COME BACK TO HAUNT SNP".
Number of vehicles (in last 5 years) using the Tay bridge - Courier - "Over 43m vehicles cross Tay bridge".
Thursday 6 September 2007
From Fife Free Press - "Cable bridge is top choice for second Forth crossing".
A letter in the Courier - "Why should we subsidise Fife bridge users?".
Wednesday 5 September 2007
More on the Bill to abolish tolls - Courier - "Last days of tolls in sight" Courier Leader Scotsman - "Abolishing Forth and Tay bridge tolls will mean one-off costs of £21m, say ministers" Daily Record - "BRIDGE TOLL AXE WILL COST £87M".
More on Tunnel v. Bridge in Courier - first letter.
From the Courier - "Delays predicted as bridge work restarts" on the Forth road bridge.
Tuesday 4 September 2007
News of the Bill - BBC - "Bridge tolls bill to be published" Courier - "Bill to scrap bridge tolls out today".
THE BILL - Parliament.
Tunnel v. Bridge in the Courier - "Backing for tunnel welcomed" last letter.
Monday 3 September 2007
The Scottish Parliament is back in business today, and it is expected that the Bill to abolish the tolls will be one of the first bills.
The improved A8000 / M9 spur is nearly complete - "Farewell at last to A8000 bottleneck". What the Courier does not mention is that this work has largely been paid for by bridge tolls, as the old Executive and old Edinburgh City Council refused to pay for it, knowing that they could raid the tolls money.
The Courier reports that Fife's transport boss says that - "New Forth crossing must last".
Saturday 1 September 2007
Two stories for the price of one in the Courier. The first is FETA discussing the removal (or not) of the tolls plaza; the other is a Labour MSP querying whether a new crossing would be tolled - "Bridge authority hears toll plaza work may cost £2m".
Friday 31 August 2007
Two people from St Andrews have a joint letter in the Courier querying the astronomic quotes for a new Forth crossing - first letter.
Saturday 25 August 2007
From last night's Evening News - "End of tolls to mean 40 jobs lost on bridge".
Friday 24 August 2007
From the Courier - "Moves to remodel £5m bridge plaza" "Posts merged after tolls axed" "Delays inevitable on Forth crossing".
The Herald is continuing its campaign to keep the tolls - "Removing Forth tolls ‘will result in traffic disruption’".
Last night's Evening News reported that - "Tolls canopy set for reprieve".
Thursday 23 August 2007
A call for a new Forth Crossing to carry rail traffic - Courier - last letter - "Rail link oversight".
The Herald's main letter today is an attack on the SNP for not doing enough to reduce CO2 emissions and for abolishing bridge tolls.
Wednesday 22 August 2007
Bob Nesbitt from Perth has this letter in today's Courier - Sir, A bridge, over the Forth, might be able to accommodate more lanes than a tunnel, but this will be of little consolation when it’s closed due to high winds!"
Tuesday 21 August 2007
Exhibition on and options for new Forth crossing - Courier - "Options for crossing go on display" Herald - "Swinney denies dropping tunnel plan as he unveils Forth option" Evening News - "Forth tunnel still an option for crossing insists Swinney" Evening News Opinion - "'It could be 2011 before the JCBs roll into action'".
In the Courier, John Swinney says that there will be - "No U-turn on axing of charges".
The Herald is still almost manic in its campaign to keep tolls. Do they get a commission? Comment - "Transport dilemma".
Other reports - Daily Record - "SWINNEY DUMPS £100K BRIDGE TOLLS REPORT" Evening News - "Swinney vows to end Forth tolls despite tailback fears" Herald - "Tolls will go despite gridlock warning" Scotsman - "So what will replace troubled bridge over water?".
Monday 20 August 2007
The "Study" report commissioned by the old Executive was published at the end of last week - Final Report. Story in the Herald - "Scrapping tolls on two bridges will generate more traffic, says report".
This report was commissioned from a firm that carries out work for organisations that wish to keep or increase tolls. We only hope that when the tolls are removed, those who have fought so hard to keep the tolls will work just as hard to make sure that the traffic flows freely and without any new artificial congestion causing measures.
Exhibition on new Forth crossing - Evening News - "Swinney visits exhibition on Forth crossing".
Saturday 18 August 2007
Consultation on new Forth crossing - Courier - "Have your say, urges MEP".
Saturday 11 August 2007
The Courier reports on progress on constructing new bridge at Kincardine - "New bridge stretches out across the Forth". The bridge will make a big difference, but should have been built to carry far more traffic, if only as an insurance against what might happen downriver.
Wednesday 8 August 2007
The debate in the Evening News about the removal of tolls has continued with another letter in Monday's paper from the ex political boss of FETA - seventh letter - "No tolls won't help us cross that bridge". The comments at the bottom of the page include a lot of contributions from "God almighty" and from NAATS including - "It is an unfortunate fact around the world that when you have a toll on a road or a river crossing, a great deal of attention is paid to toll collection and administration rather than other matters. At a tolled bridge inquiry last autumn in England it was revealed that every one of the staff employed on the bridge was a toll collector or an administrator, there was not a single person employed to maintain the bridge. Bridges should not be in the hands of private owners or groups of councillors running an authority whose almost sole function is to administer the one bridge and whose only source of income is bridge tolls. The Executive already has responsibility for 3,500 kilometres of trunk roads and hundreds of bridges. The Forth and Tay road bridges should be integrated into that national system, and should be free. That is what the bridge users want, and they will not be deterred by Mr Marshall's implied claims of disaster."
The Courier has a letter today reassuring readers after the collapse of the bridge in America - fourth letter - "Concern after bridge collapse". The bridge master quotes from a report prepared for the old Executive - "..Standards of inspection and maintenance are considered to be better at the Forth Bridge than for some of the US bridges, especially those that are not operated by toll facilities.." The very same words were quoted only yesterday by "God almighty" in the Evening News as part of his / her argument that tolls should be kept.
Monday 6 August 2007
The trolls are still pushing out stories to try and stop the removal of the tolls - Evening News - "Heavy toll to pay for free crossing".
Last Tuesday the Courier had a letter apparently complaining about the cost of removing bridge tolls - first letter. Today there was a response from us - third letter.
Last Thursday the Evening News had a letter from Tom Minogue following on from what the ex FETA boss had said in last Monday's Evening News. Here is the letter - second letter (there are also some comments at the bottom.
Saturday 4 August 2007
A letter in the Courier about the risks following Mississippi bridge collapse at Minneapolis - second letter.
Wednesday 1 August 2007
There is a letter in the Courier from a Pitlochry gentleman about the removal of Forth and Tay bridge tolls. He says that "there seemed to be no consideration how bridge debts and expenses were to be paid in their absence". He also refers to the demolition of the Forth toll plaza adding "£2 million to the bill" - top letter. There are many reasons for removing the tolls, not least of which is the question of equity. There are no tolls for travelling in the Pitlochry area. The real waste in this case was the decision that though the future of the tolls were in doubt, there would be £8.5 million spent in creating an eyesore. A bill to which we can now apparently add £2 million.
Tuesday 31 July 2007
The Scotsman has something from the Trolls - "Cost of axing Scotland's road bridge tolls put at £42 million". In the real world the initial cost of removing the last two bridge tolls is almost nothing. What the Scotsman does not say is that the Forth bridge has surpluses not debts, and the surplus is about the same as the Tay bridge debt. But the worst of all is to include in this "cost" the removal of the white elephant of the new toll plaza.
Last night's Evening News had the ex FETA boss complaining about the waste of the £2 million cost of demolishing the new tolls "plaza" on the Forth bridge - "Cost of axing Scotland's road bridge tolls put at £42 million". He says "When I took over as convener of the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) in July 2005, there was no doubt in my mind that the Scottish Executive wished FETA to bring forward a Local Transport Strategy with variable tolling as an integral part of that. The old toll booths needed to be replaced on health and safety grounds but the proposal to introduce variable electronic tolling was the real impetus behind the construction of the modern toll plaza now to be demolished - with computer equipment capable of tolling the existing bridge and any additional crossing." The tolls have been under review for several years and under the then law law the tolls should have ended by March 2006. Despite this in October 2004, FETA decided to spend many millions on a new tolls plaza. Why?
Monday 30 July 2007
The Courier says - "Hovercraft ‘major success’". Perhaps they should also have a trial in the middle of winter.
Friday 27 July 2007
The Courier reports on the cost of demolishing the new toll plaza - "Toll plaza removal may cost £2m". IF this new system had ever become fully operational then queues might have been even worse than before!
Report in Wednesday's EN - "£2m to scrap £5m booths".
Friday 20 July 2007
The Courier reports on required lane changes on the Forth bridge when the tolls are removed - "Plans to merge bridge traffic". Chanegs on the approaches are obviously needed, but we would be more likely to get an integrated road system if the bridge was being managed by the national highway authorities rather than by a body which has fought tooth and nail to keep tolls.
Tuesday 17 July 2007
Report on the first day of the hovercraft trial service - Courier - "Forthfast service proves a hit".
Monday 16 July 2007
An MSP's comments on the hovercraft trial service from Fife to Edinburgh - Courier - "Doubts voiced over hovercraft service".
Saturday 14 July 2007
The Courier reports on the trial of a new hovercraft service from Fife to Edinburgh - "Hovercraft link to Edinburgh ‘terrific’". If the figures quoted are correct then the service will carry a maximum of 1,430 round trippers a day and the 13 day trial is costing £300,000. Assuming the craft is full, that's a subsidy of £16 a round trip!
Friday 13 July 2007
There has been little in the papers recently about the tolls. We are not sure whether that is a good or a bad sign! One worry is the ridiculously high figures that are being quoted for the cost of building a new Forth bridge. Last week there was a letter in the Courier from FETA - bosses of the Forth Road bridge - about the leap between the one billion cost that came from FETA and the over three billion cost now being quoted by the Executive. FETA said that the figure produced for them was "based on 2003 prices and do not include approach roads or other supporting infrastructure". This begs the question of how much inflation is being assumed beween 2003 and when the bridge is built. But more importantly it also begs the question of what was in the one billion cost, because the report produced for FETA had the cost of building a road bridge and "approach viaducts" as £300 million. Report from the Evening News on 18 June 2004, which says that of the £1 billion cost, only £300 million is for a road bridge
Tuesday 10 July 2007
An MSP's view on a new Forth crossing - Courier - "Calls to consult public on bridge"
Wednesday 4 July 2007
Fife Chamber of Commerce press on new bridge - Courier - "Chamber seeks fast decision on bridge"
The Courier also has a letter from one of the Forth road bridge bosses, disputing the letter from Tom Minogue - (second letter).
Leaving aside the question of the cost, Tom's reaction to the rest of the letter is - "As for FETA being accountable to the public I suggest that anyone tries to take up concerns on the running of the bridge with their councillor and see what response they get. I have done so and got little response from most. At one FETA meeting it was made clear to Fife councillor Jock Cameron, who tried to reflect the views of his constituents, that councillors were bound by the policy of Fife Council and not the views of their constituents. That was under the New Labour dominated Fife Council and hopefully the new leadership of the council will be more accessible—but there is no provision for public participation in the FETA statute."
Tuesday 3 July 2007
The Herald today published a letter which shows how the colossal figures quoted for replacing the Forth bridge is just giving ammunition to the trolls-
"The potential 3.5bn cost of the new Forth crossing highlights just how short-sighted and irresponsible the decision to abolish bridge tolls has been. Now generations of taxpayers across Scotland will be forced to foot the bill for the SNP's pre-election bribes. I also note with disbelief that the Transport Minister claims his top priorities on our roads include "managing demand to reduce congestion". I'd be interested to hear exactly how he plans to achieve this at the Forth without the mechanism of tolls?"
The reports on which the mega figures are based is now available at Transport for Scotland site - Forth Replacement Crossing Study - Report 5 Final - June 2007 links to previous versions etc. If you can find an explanation of how a road bridge that two years ago was estimated as costing £300 million would now cost several billions, then please let us know!!
The most disturbing part of the report is on page 7 - "However if the FRB was to be refurbished and re-opened then consideration would have to be given as to how it could be used in combination with the replacement crossing. This report considers how such a strategy may operate. The guiding principle of the operation of this combination would be that there should be no more than two lanes available for general traffic in each direction." In other words the people who produced this report did it on the basis that they were told that there was to be no increase in road capacity. Following this to its logical conclusion, if after all the existing bridge is repaired and can carry on with four lanes as now, then road vehicles would not be allowed to use the new crossing!!!!!
Monday 2 July 2007
For some reason, the Herald is firmly in the trolls camp and is still fighting to keep the tolls. This morning it published results of a poll of businesses that it commissioned, which included a question on removal of tolls. The result was that 58% of firms welcomed removal of tolls and 11% the Herald implies were against it. The Herald concludes - "The result falls short of being a ringing endorsement of a significant policy initiative." - "Business poll reveals SNP impact fears".
Letter in the Courier from Tom Minogue on reported cost of new Forth road bridge - (second letter). All the figures being quoted seem far too high. If all they are doing is building a replacement road bridge then at current prices, the cost should be nearer £400 million, rather than £4,000 million.
Friday 29 June 2007
Some reaction in the Scotsman to the incredible statement that a new Forth road bridge would cost up to £3.5 billion to build - "Delays and forecast cost rise of Forth crossing 'unnecessary and irresponsible'".
Thursday 28 June 2007
MSPs were told yesterday that a new Forth road bridge would cost up to £3.5 billion to build, a tunnel even more - Courier - "Green light for new bridge, but costs soar". For this price is the crossing to be built of solid gold?
Wednesday 27 June 2007
NAATS has received a message from the Executive sent on behalf of the First Minister, Alex Salmond, and John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance. They say - "As you will have seen, the Parliament debated the issue of tolls on 31 May and agreed an amended Motion which commits the Scottish Executive to ending bridge tolls. Ministers will bring forward legislation in September to abolish tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges. The expectation is that the legislation will be able to be passed by the Parliament before the turn of the year, and that the tolls will be ended on both bridges as soon as is practicable.". Those who want to keep tolls are still fighting hard, but let us hope for a toll free Hogmanay!!
Tuesday 26 June 2007
Those who want the tolls kept are still fighting. In today's Herald, their political commentator says -"The consequences of SNP piecemeal spending pledges go beyond next year's budget, and beyond money. Take bridge tolls, for instance. There has been no explanation of what impact an officially estimated 21% increase in bridge traffic will have on the lifespan of the current Forth road bridge, on traffic emissions, or what abolition means for the funding of its successor crossing.". Will the Herald soon be saying that the ending of bridge tolls will cause earthquakes and plagues?
Monday 25 June 2007
More excuses for trying to keep tolls - Edinburgh News - "More congestion if bridge tolls go, says report". (Our comment is number 13!!)
Friday 22 June 2007
This week's Dunfermline Press has the Freight Transport Association arguing for a tunnel rather than another bridge over the Forth. They say this is because of restrictions on the type of goods that can be carried through tunnels - "Tunnel plan blown out of the water".
The Courier has a story about pay offs for toll collectors. It also says that it may be 2008 before tolls go - "Union in Executive bid over toll staff".
The Courier reports that the "Forth Replacement Crossing Study" has been completed and it is likely that there will be a new bridge - "Bridge top option for next Forth crossing". This study has been completed very quickly, we wonder how long we will have to wait before the results are published.
Letter in the Courier on the cable problem - "How did they get it so wrong?".
Wednesday 20 June 2007
The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee is starting to look at the abolition of the remaining two bridge tolls. The Herald reports that Labour's Des McNulty will be trying to delay this. As the SNP are in a minority, the other parties "can hold inquiries on matters that may be awkward for the SNP, tie down ministers with scrutiny and raise awkward questions".
The Scotsman has a list of Scotland's best bridges. Amazingly they only give five, though they include the Tay bridges, and Skye which "particularly since tolls were lifted, has provided a huge boost to tourism".
From the Courier, Forth - "Bridge work suspended for tourist season".
Tuesday 19 June 2007
The Tay bridge board are working with the Executive on the removal of tolls. Are the Forth bridge board still fighting to keep them? Courier - "Autumn bill to scrap bridge tolls".
Tay bridge works - Courier - "November date for bridge works".
Thursday 14 June 2007
Work on rusty cables - Courier - "Road bridge cables’ blow-dry".
Two letters disputing the suggestion that traffic on the Tay will increase by a third when tolls go - Courier - (last two letters).
Tuesday 12 June 2007
When tolls go on the Tay, traffic will increase by up to a third - or so they say - Courier - "Toll-free bridge likely to see more traffic".
Monday 11 June 2007
Two letters in the Courier - John Phimister from Kirkcaldy says that Forth road bridge cables should be replaced rather than repaired; Tom Monogue scoffs at the suggestion that there will be gridlock on the bridges when tolls are removed - (1st & 2nd letters).
Friday 8 June 2007
A letter in the Courier from Malcolm Lowe of Blairgowrie supporting the removal of tolls - (5th letter).
At least one MSP seemed to know what was in the latest cable corrosion report before the members of FETA's board. By now the report should be on FETA's website, it wasn't and so we asked for a copy - here it is as a pdf file.
Thursday 7 June 2007
More letters in the Courier this time supporting the removal of tolls, from Robert McEwan of Dunfermline, Geoff Bray.
of Forfar and David Reoch of Kirkcaldy - (1st,2nd,3rd letters).
A Green has been put in charge of Holyrood's Transport committee. Let's hope this does not delay the removal of tolls - Herald - "Greens handed key transport role".
Wednesday 6 June 2007
More letters in the Courier opposing the removal of tolls - (2nd, 3rd and 4th letters).
The Courier wonders what has happened to the last Tolls report - "Ministers yet to see toll-removal report".
Dundee wants money for a scheme which includes the removal and replacement of the Tay Road Bridge approach ramps - Courier - "Waterfront funding gap".
Tuesday 5 June 2007
The Trolls are at it again, with more propaganda in the Scotsman - "Bridge queues 'will worsen when tolls go'".
The identical story, apart from the headline was in the Evening News - "'Traffic will increase' if bridge tolls scrapped". Who wrote this story? Was it the Tolls PR people?
Monday 4 June 2007
During Thursday's tolls debate we were not sure whether we were supposed to celebrate or cry. The news media believe that it is all over, but we just don't know. This is the statement that we issued on Thursday:-
Today was supposed to be the day when MSPs almost unanimously agreed that the remaining bridge tolls should be removed "as soon as is practicable". Stewart Stevenson of the SNP, on behalf of the Executive had moved a motion to that effect. The details would be sorted out later, but the country would be moving towards being toll free.
Des McNulty on behalf of Scottish Labour moved an amendment, which left from the original motion only three words - "That the Parliament"! What was in effect a new motion required yet more "consultation" and linked any removal of tolls to a list of other issues including trams for Edinburgh.
During the afternoon's debates MSPs from all parties said that they supported the principle of removing the tolls, but most of the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MSPs who spoke qualified this by bringing in many other transport issues.
MSPs spoke of the huge impact on jobs if tolls were removed. By this they meant the loss of toll collection jobs! It was forgotten that these lost jobs will be far outweighed by the jobs that will be created in Fife by removing the charge imposed on those who want to cross into Fife. When the last tolls went at Erskine, Andy White, Scottish Labour leader of West Dunbarton Council, said there will be "20,000 new jobs across a whole range of areas... We know tolls have acted as a barrier to businesses locating in this area so it's a tremendous boost financially to the wider economic area here in the West of Scotland." There was a similar effect in Skye, why did the MSPs ignore the effect on Fife?
Many of the MSPs in the debate, with the notable exception of Tricia Marwick from the SNP, seemed to have forgotten the issue of justice. Justice is not something that can be qualified. Those on Fife and Tayside feel like a man who has been imprisoned for 40 years, told that he will soon be released and then told that he will have to wait till there has been another review of how this release can be achieved. There is still a worry that the tolls issue may be kicked out of play till the cow jumps over the moon.
Our hope must be that despite the games and tricks at Holyrood, the new Executive will proceed on the basis that the removal of tolls has been accepted in principle by the Parliament. The Executive must go quickly ahead with their priority of removing the tolls as it is likely that enough MSPs from the other parties will back any legislation that is needed.
Fife business concern over the rusty cables - Courier - "Fife plea to start now on new crossing".
A reader from Perth today has a letter complaining that there is too much in the paper about the campaign to remove the tolls.
Sunday 3 June 2007
Scotland on Sunday says that the shenanigans during the toll debate were orchestrated by the Lib Dems. This seems to show that whatever the Lib Dems said during the elections, they don't care if their plotting means that the tolls are kept - "Bungled mugging spells more trouble ahead".
Saturday's Evening News shows how the establishment and FETA are still fighting to keep the tolls, and they and their PR agents seem to be able to determine what people see in the papers - "'SNP proposals seem badly thought out'".
An unpublished letter from someone in Aberdeen to the MSPs - "We in Aberdeen may be some distance from the problems the Forth and Tay Bridge traffic causes but many of us have regularly experienced the unacceptable delays, congestion and pollution that is caused by traffic queuing at the tolls as we head North to the clear air of Aberdeen. Added to this, years of paying for these bridges is clearly a completely unacceptable stealth tax (not well hidden though) on the people and businesses of Scotland that can only detract from Scotland as place to visit and to do business in. I hope that MSPs of all parties will now support the latest move to abolish both tolls. If, on the other hand, any are not going to support the bill will they please explain why they want this misery for users to continue. And, oh, please don't tell us that you will be doing it for our own good."
Saturday 2 June 2007
There have been more stories about the rusty cables - Courier Thursday - "Executive to assess bridge report" BBC Friday - "Work 'possible' on bridge cables" Courier Saturday - "Years of traffic delays if bridge cables replaced" Scotsman Saturday - "Forth Road Bridge could be closed every weekend for a year".
We assume the above reports are correct, though with FETA it is difficult to find out the facts - the press seem to have been told what is going on and the FETA board were due to discuss this yesterday, but the report that they presumably saw is not available.
Some stories from the Courier over the last few days -
Thursday - "Union’s fears for jobs when tolls are axed".
Thursday - "Fife representatives urged to speak out".
Friday - "MSPs vote to end “40 years of injustice”".
Friday - letter (3rd down) from Lindsay Johnston of Gauldry.
Friday 1 June 2007
What was said yesterday at Holyrood- Official Report - "Bridge Tolls".
Stories on debate in this morning's papers. it is said that legislation to scrap the tolls will be "brought forward in September" - Scotsman - "Bridge tolls 'scrapped by the end of the year'" Herald - "Salmond: SNP can ignore votes of Holyrood".
A story from last night's Evening News about the Edinburgh tram scheme that may sink the hopes of removing bridge tolls. The EN backs the trams, but if you read the online comments at the end of the story, there is a different side - "'The SNP has no mandate to scrap trams'".
Thursday 31 May 2007
MSPs today debated an SNP motion to remove the tolls. Or at least they should have been. The Greens moved an amendment which fell but Labour moved an amendment which the Executive was forced to accept which dragged in other issues. After a long debate the Labour amendment was carried without opposition and the new motion was carried by 120 votes to none with two abstentions - BBC - "MSPs vote to scrap bridge tolls".
Reports before the debate - Fife Today - "AXED POISED OVER FORTH BRIDGE TOLLS" Daily Record - "NATS AVOID HUMILIATION OVER TAXES AND TRAMS". This other brief report gave a different impression of what would happen this afternoon - ic Scotland - "MSPs debate bridge tolls".
The motion and the two amendments -
S3M-93 Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP) : Abolition of Bridge Tolls— That the Parliament recognises the concerns of residents and businesses who have been unfairly treated by the retention of tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges when similar tolls were removed elsewhere; and that in the interests of fairness supports the removal of the tolls from the Forth and Tay road bridges as soon as is practicable and notes the government's intention to engage in dialogue to pursue this objective with the Forth Estuary Transport Authority and the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board.
Supported by: Bruce Crawford
Lodged on 29 May 2007; current
S3M-93.1 Robin Harper (Lothians) (Green) : Abolition of Bridge Tolls— As an amendment to motion S3M-93 in the name of Stewart Stevenson (Abolition of Bridge Tolls), leave out from “who” to end and insert “in Edinburgh, Dundee and Fife and, in the interests of reducing the impact of increasing traffic on the Forth and Tay road bridges and reducing congestion, supports the introduction of revenue-neutral smart charges with higher charges at peak times for cars on a sliding scale according to occupancy rates, lower charges or free access at other times of the day and week and free access for public transport at all times.”
Lodged on 30 May 2007; current
S3M-93.2 Des McNulty (Clydebank and Milngavie) (Lab) : Abolition of Bridge Tolls— As an amendment to motion S3M-93 in the name of Stewart Stevenson (Abolition of Bridge Tolls), leave out from “recognises” to end and insert “, in accepting that the people of Fife and Tayside should not be disadvantaged by the retention of tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges, requires that consultation aimed at bringing forward proposals leading to the removal of the tolls as soon as practicable also ensures that traffic management and safety issues on the Forth road bridge are dealt with and that any employees affected are treated with dignity and respect; further requires that the government’s proposals set out clearly what the financial consequences of the removal of tolls on the transport budget are and outline funding options for the vital replacement Forth crossing, and requires that, as any additional vehicle traffic increases congestion problems in Edinburgh and the wider region, existing commitments to trams and Edinburgh Airport Rail which have already been scrutinised and received parliamentary approval should not be arbitrarily delayed or cancelled and that all future major transport project proposals be properly costed, evaluated and prioritised.”
Supported by: Alex Johnstone, Margo MacDonald, Alison McInnes
Lodged on 30 May 2007; current
Wednesday 30 May 2007
The union representing tolled bridge staff is complaining about removal of tolls - BBC- "Union unease at bridge toll plans".
Tuesday 29 May 2007
A man from Fife has a letter in the Courier complaining about removal of tolls - fourth letter.
Monday 28 May 2007
According to tonight's Evening News, Edinburgh Council expect to have their man as the new political boss of FETA -
"Council set to bridge the gap after defeat".
A letter in today's Courier from Cameron Kettles of Dundee about removing the tolls - "... There should be no more excuses, lies or delays, do it now. We have been subsidising the West of Scotland, bearing the brunt of inequalities, being taxed when others have been removed. We have put up with politicians’ lies, hidden deals, spin, exaggerations, inconsistencies, misplaced calls for additional (expensive) reports, blatant mis-statement of facts regarding pollution etc. I applaud Alex Salmond for having the courage to stick to his guns, and also for coming good on his manifesto promise—such a refreshing event—finish the job Alex, scrap ’em now!".
Sunday 27 May 2007
Here is one bit of news from Wednesday that was not absolutely clear from what appeared in the papers - Labour now support the removal of all the tolls - Scottish Labour Party press release.
Tom Minogue has a letter in Scotland on Sunday - "Welcome plan to scrap bridge tolls".
One of the paper's editors today makes it clear that his "true colour" is green - Scotland on Sunday - "Alex shows Greens his true colours".
Saturday 26 May 2007
Report on the Tolls Taj Mahal - "Group slams £5 million toll plaza".
From last night's Evening Telegraph - "Union warns on bridge maintenance", and this morning's Courier - "Tolls axe leaves Forth bridge staff in limbo".
Two letters on the tolls in the Courier - second and third letters. The letter from Tom Minogue was also in Thursday's Scotsman and Evening News.
Thursday 24 May 2007
More this morning on the lifting of the tolls - Dunfermline Press - ""End of the road ahead for tolls" Courier - "TOLLS OFF" Courier - "“A great day for east of Scotland”" Courier - "Good move, but challenges ahead" Courier - "Long wait for people power to triumph".
This is the press release that NAATS sent out yesterday -
"MAKE TOLLS HISTORY"
"We warmly welcome today's announcement by the First Minister confirming the promise that the remaining tolls will be removed."
"The campaign against tolls was started by the people of Skye back in 1995, we are pleased that we are now nearing an end to all tolls. The removal of tolls is a boost to local economies and it makes people feel better - ask the people of Skye or around the area of the Erskine bridge."
"The removal of the last of the bridge tolls will be a boost to the whole of Scotland. A toll free nation will be an attraction to tourists. It will also attract inward investment, as businesses don't like tolls as can be seen by the M6 toll road in England, which carries almost no goods traffic."
"This proposal to remove tolls is being put forward by the SNP, and the Tory members have already made it clear in their election campaign that they also support the removal of tolls. That leaves a question of what the other parties will do. We ask that they look to the future and join in the freeing of Scotland from road tolls, after all it has been done before. Tolls "and other exactions" were removed with effect from 1883 by the Roads and Bridges Scotland Act of 1878. In most areas the origin of the "toll house" has been forgotten, the MSPs can now make tolls history throughout Scotland."
Wednesday 23 May 2007
The First Minister at 2.45 this afternoon confirmed that the tolls are to go. One person apparently not pleased is from Edinburgh City Council - Edinburgh Evening News - "Dawe's fear as SNP set to scrap bridge tolls".
Reports this morning that the First Minister is to announce the end of the tolls - Scotsman - "SNP's Holyrood battles commence with move to abolish bridge tolls" BBC - "Salmond plans to end bridge tolls" Courier - "Bridge tolls facing axe: oil transfers to be vetoed" Herald - "Salmond in bid to scrap tolls on Forth and Tay bridges".
Report last night - Berwickshire Today / Press Association - "Salmond's toll pledge".
Tuesday 22 May 2007
It was reported yesterday that Tory MSP, Murdo Fraser, is to publish a Member's Bill to abolish both tolls. This is most welcome news. We hope that the new bill does not share the fate of the two bills raised in the last session by Bruce Crawford and Helen Eadie. Both bills fell at the dissolution of the Parliament. Bruce Crawford's bill had earlier somehow failed to comply with some obscure rule by one day.
Saturday 19 May 2007
The Forth bridge is open normally this weekend due to "poor weather"! Courier - "Work on bridge halted".
Friday 18 May 2007
Peter Murray Spencer of Dundee suggests in the Couier that the next Forth crossing should be a causeway - 4th letter.
Thursday 17 May 2007
According to an official report, the removal of tolls on the Skye bridge has boosted the local economy and benefitted the people. Did they need a report to work that out??? BBC - "Bridge study claims £100m boost" Herald - "Skye bridge traffic increases by 50% since tolls scrapped" (includes comment from Tom McAlister one of the SKAT campaigners) Herald - (later report) Scotsman - "Axed Skye tolls bring £100m boost and halt exodus of young".
You do not need us to tell you that yesterday, the SNP formed a minority administration. Their manifesto said that the bridge tolls would be gone within 100 days. We believe that they meant this, but the next 100 days will tell. We sent a message to ALL the MSPs saying -
"We realise that there will be many issues before you, but in our view there is an issue which can and should be addressed quickly - the remaining bridge tolls. The removal of the last of the bridge tolls will remove an injustice that mainly affects people and businesses in Fife. It will also benefit the economy - most people and businesses don't like tolls, and being able to promote Scotland as a fully "toll free nation" will be a boost to tourism and inward investment. Not that this would be the first time that Scotland was toll free as the old tolls "and other exactions" were removed with effect from 1883 by the Roads and Bridges Scotland Act of 1878. (There was no similar Act in England, which still has at least 10 tolls that date back before 1878.) Those who wanted to keep the tolls have given various reasons for doing so." The message continued by setting out in more detail why the tolls should go.
Yesterday's Courier had a letter from Graham Fleming of Perth about resurfacing work at the northern end of the Kincardine Bridge last Sunday at the same time as restrictions due to resurfacing work on the Forth Bridge. He says that this is "another example of the poor standard of planning we experience from public services". A problem that we believe would be reduced if the Executive was responsible for both bridges.
Monday 14 May 2007
Courier report on Forth bridge - "Gridlock on bridge as works continue".
Saturday 12 May 2007
Tom Minogue had this letter in this morning's Courier -
"Many voters who voted for all but the Labour Party are rightly optimistic that the troublesome tolls on the Tay and Forth Bridges can be abolished as a majority of MSPs in the new session of Parliament are committed to such a course of action.
The outlook for the Forth Road Bridge users is better than even the most optimistic voter could have predicted as the power to collect tolls on this bridge is derived from the Forth Road Bridge (Toll Period) Extension Order2006, which was a piece of subordinate legislation enacted by the Scottish Executive without recourse to the Scottish Parliaments’ members in Committee or in the Chamber.
So if the Executive “by powers conferred by section 46 of the Forth Road Bridge Order 1958” can—“after having received an application from the Forth Estuary Transport Authority”—impose tolls on the Forth Road Bridge by decree, they can abolish tolls the same way—without the full Parliament voting on it!
So get to it FETA and make your request to the Scottish Executive—the voters of Scotland have spoken on this matter!
Once FETA apply this will be an early “litmus test” for the new Scottish Executive and I have no doubt that our new First Minister, Alex Salmond will take the opportunity to honour his pre-election promises and scrap the Forth Road Bridge tolls. This act will demonstrate that he—unlike his predecessors—is set to make Scotland a toll free country and boost the economy of the East Coast in the process.
I am not sure of the exact legal requirements for the Tay Bridge but I am sure that there is a way to speedily abolish this toll—through the Parliament if necessary."
The Courier also has a report on how long, or not, it might take to build a new Forth crossing - "Bridge delay report “scaremongering”".
Tuesday 8 May 2007
The Press Association report that the SNP may do a deal with the Greens (all two of them). Let's hope that justice for the bridge users is not forgotten - Guardian - "Transport could be key to SNP deal".
Monday 7 May 2007
The Courier reckons that both tolls are dead. Let us hope that they are correct - "Number up for both bridge tolls".
Saturday 5 May 2007
No one predicted the election shambles, but the results of Thurday's elections were broadly as forecast. The SNP are the largest party (just), but have no overall majority. Assuming that the SNP either form a minority government or are part of a coalition, we hope that they will not forget their "no tolls" promise. Bizarrely the voters in Dunfermline West voted in a Lib Dem, the party that has fought the hardest to keep the tolls but seems to have the knack of promising the opposite to the local electors and being believed.
The local council elections indicate a Edinburgh "Toll Poll" effect, Labour lost half their seats (compared with Glasgow where they only lost a fifth).
Tuesday 1 May 2007
The future of the local hospital was the dominant issue, but tolls was also an issue at last night's hustings in Dunfermline organised by the Courier. Here is part of their report - "Another topic which was dominant during the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election build up and reappeared yesterday evening was bridge tolls.
This has been an ongoing concern of the Fife Federation of Small Businesses, whose chairman David Chalmers was at the hustings.
Reminding those present of his resignation as a party whip over tolls, Scott Barrie (Labour) reiterated his opposition to his party’s stance on the issue.
Meanwhile, Jim Tolson (Lib Dem) prompted jeers from the crowd when he said tolls were “strangling the economy of Fife.”
Alice McGarry, an SNP candidate in the council elections, was applauded after she stood up and said, “Stop telling lies, Jim.”
The Lib Dem candidate gave Peter Lyburn a sense of “deja vu,” said the young Conservative. He said Willie Rennie had also pledged to convince his party to get rid of tolls during his campaign for the Dunfermline and West Fife seat but had not succeeded.
The SNP has been the most consistent party on tolls policy. “Tolls should have been done away with years ago,” said Len Woods.".
Saturday 28 April 2007
The Greens have been reminding people via tonight's Evening News that they want more tolls. Their views are unlikely to win them many Holyrood seats, but there is a danger that a coalition may need their backing.
The Forth bridge authority are having problems with their new luxury toll system - Courier - "Bridge toll problems admitted".
Report on work on resurfacing the Forth bridge roadway - Courier - "Work already behind schedule".
Friday 27 April 2007
The "Toll Truth" from the Courier - "Voters don’t know the toll truth, says group".
Thursday 26 April 2007
Robbie the Pict, the veteran anti toll campaigner is back in the courts. He is trying to squash the criminal convictions of those who opposed the Skye bridge tolls, and this time is using the "Scottish Claim of Rights Act 1689" - Highland News - "Appeal to Queen on bridge convictions".
The Tories have been given Nought out of Ten by the "Friends of the Earth".Not surprisingly the Scottish Tories have been disowned by the greenie Tories down in London - Guardian - "Scottish Tories get zero rating for green policies".
Wednesday 25 April 2007
John Phimister of Kirkcaldy says that the Forth "Bridge is worth saving" - Courier - fourth letter.
Friday 20 April 2007
It seems that the people who run the Forth bridge know that the result of the election will be a victory for Labour and Lib Dems, as they have announced that electronic tolling will be introduced in the summer - Evening News - "Bridge tolls to go electronic" "FETA announcement".
Wednesday 18 April 2007
The BBC report that the Tories are emphasising their opposition to tolls - "Party leaders focus on transport". Report in various papers - "Tories reject charges for motorists".
John Brook from Methil suggests that the Courier should remind readers about which MSPs last year supported keeping tolls - Courier - first letter.
Monday 16 April 2007
Tailbacks on Forth bridge at the weekend due to start of resurfacing work - Courier - "Huge tailbacks begin over Forth".
Sunday 15 April 2007
Scotland on Sunday's business correspondent reports on the roasting that Jack got on the tolls issue from businessmen - "Jack takes the rap for Holyrood, the bridge and Brown". The Scotsman seems to be backing tolls as it says that businesses "will be no worse off than before".
Friday 13 April 2007
Tonight's Evening News reports that the stance of Labour and Lib Dems has been attacked by businesses - Evening News - "McConnell and Stephen roasted over Forth bridge tolls".
Yesterday the SNP issued their - manifesto. Surprisingly, the main document does not mention the bridge tolls, though it does refer to road tolls - "We do not believe Labour and Liberal Democrat proposals for a Toll Tax - charging motorist a new tax for using Scotland’s roads - is the right approach especially as so many Scottish families today do not have adequate access to alternative public transport."
The bridge tolls are in a separate document "Our first steps" which says - "It’s time for a fair deal for all parts of Scotland. We will introduce a Bridge Tolls (Abolition) Bill to completely remove tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges. It is unacceptable and unfair to leave the two road bridges into and out of Fife as the only remaining toll bridges in Scotland.".
Their proposals were reported in various papers including - Courier.
Thursday 12 April 2007
Labour have issued their - manifesto. As expected they say on the bridge tolls - "Scottish Labour will also remove all tolls on the Tay Bridge and for multiple-occupancy cars on the Forth Road Bridge." On road tolls they say nothing at all.
In our opinion the reason that Labour backed the Lib Dems in their fanatical support for bridge tolls and still want to keep Forth bridge tolls is as a platform from which to gradually introduce road tolls. In a vain attempt to fool people they will probably describe this as "congestion charges".
The Lib Dems have also issued their - manifesto. As expected they say on the bridge tolls - "We will abolish tolls on the Tay Bridge and end them on the Forth Bridge for cars with more than one occupant.". On road tolls they say - "We will not introduce road user charging in Scotland. Should the UK Labour Government introduce road charging, we would only consider supporting it if existing vehicle excise duty and fuel duty are abolished to make the system tax neutral."
In our opinion these words are worthless. The Lib Dem Ministers have only recently retracted their former aim that Scotland should be the first to have road tolls, and they have fought like fanatics to keep bridge tolls.
The Courier reports - "More weekends of Forth bridge contraflows loom".
PS BBC - "Delay warning for bridge drivers".<
Tuesday 10 April 2007
Lindsay Johnston from Gauldry has a letter in the Courier about the tolls - "Toll queues harm economy".
Monday 9 April 2007
More on a tunnel under the Forth - Courier - "Group’s backing for Forth tunnel".
The Courier also has two letters on the tolls. One from NAATS, the other from a resident of Anstruther who wants the tolls kept - (first two letters).
For some unknown reason, the Herald seems to be keen to keep the bridge tolls and bring in road tolls. Today they give the views of a Glasgow GP who says that he backs road pricing as a way of making people leave their cars at home. - "Politicians have to take decisions that are unpopular". He gives the abolition of slavery and votes for women as examples of policies that were "brave at their time but honoured by history."
Saturday 7 April 2007
One letter about the tolls in today's Courier under the heading "Double speak on tolls". Chic Brodie from Dundee contrasts the "promise" to remove the Tay bridge tolls with the previous claims - "that they couldn't be removed because it would cause congestion at the Dundee end".
Friday 6 April 2007
This is a message that we sent to MSPs just before the dissolution. Let's hope that it has some effect!
A month ago the Lib Dems were urging that Scotland should be first with road tolls. Now it seems that they have changed their minds - Herald - "Road tolls poll finding forces LibDems into an abrupt U-turn". The Lib Dems still support keeping bridge tolls, what is that other than a bridgehead for road tolls?
Some tolls letters in this morning's Scotsman.
SNP Press Release - "Lib Dems Veering All Over the Road on Toll Tax".
Thursday 5 April 2007
Last night BBC Scotland published the results of a poll of 1,000 voters. Out of 25 possible policy choices, the bottom two were city tolls and motorway tolls.
The Forth Tunnel Action Group say that if a new Forth crossing is a bridge (rather than a tunnel) then the tolls would be £11 - Courier - "£11 tolls a possibility, claim group".
Wednesday 4 April 2007
Yesterday the Greens published their manifesto - BBC - "At-a-glance: Scots Green manifesto". The Greens would keep both bridge tolls, bring in levies on "road congestion", and not build an additional Forth bridge - Today's Courier - "Crossing plans could sink deal".
Yesterday's Courier, had two letters on the tolls. The first was from Tom Minogue who said that by keeping tolls on the Forth bridge, Labour was harming the low paid. Ron Caird from Newport said that the promise to remove the Tay tolls was "a triumph of people-power", but pointed out that it was just a promise - (first two letters). NAATS view is that removal of one toll is obviously due to the long running campaign, but keeping the other is a failure of the people to beat the Edinburgh establishment.
Monday's Courier, also had two letters on the tolls. The first is from Malcolm McCandless of Dundee. He points out that the next Parliament could delay removing the Tay tolls till the time comes when they will bring in tolls on ALL roads. Peter Harrower from Edinburgh suggests a march across both bridges - (first two letters).
On Monday the Tories published their manifesto. It includes - "The removal of tolls on the Forth road and Tay bridges. Oppose the introduction of additional road-charging schemes." - BBC - "At-a-glance: Scots Tory manifesto".
Saturday's Courier had one letter on the tolls - from Brian Massie of Dundee. He says "Call me a cynic, but after months of prevarication and flawed traffic surveys, it seems a tad simplistic that suddenly, with five weeks to go before the local and Holyrood elections—and with the SNP, who have always expressed a desire for the abolition of tolls on the Tay Bridge, 10% ahead in the polls—the two ruling parties find themselves conveniently empowered to dump previously held convictions for the retention of tolls on the Tay Bridge and announce they will be abolished.....".
Saturday 31 March 2007
More reports about the story that the Labour Party and the Lib Dem manifestos will promise to scrap tolls on the Tay bridge but not on the Forth bridge -
Courier - "Parties’ promises still NAAT good enough" Courier - "Congestion issue ignored-claim" Courier - "Labour pledge “ridiculous U-turn”-SNP" Scotsman - "Pledge to cut bridge tolls is greeted with scepticism" Herald- "Pledge to scrap tolls on the bridges".
Friday 30 March 2007
The main news today has been a story which started in the Courier that Labour Party and the Lib Dem manifestos will promise to scrap tolls on the Tay bridge "early in the lifetime of the next parliament". It is also reported that both parties will not scrap the Forth bridge
tolls, but that they will "suspend" the tolls for vehicles with more than one occupant - Courier - "Pledge signals success in tolls campaign" Courier - "Divisive double standards tolls regime doomed" BBC - "Party moves to scrap bridge tolls" Evening News - "Parties pledge to scrap road bridge tolls for car-sharers".
Tonight's Evening News has a piece from the Chartered Surveyors who among other things suggest that we need "Transport taxation". We wonder if this is a new name for tolls! "Moving in the right direction".
Wednesday 28 March 2007
Today's Paisley Daily Express reports that traffic is now travelling faster on the Erskine bridge - too fast apparently - "SCRAP SPEEDING ON THE BRIDGE!". It is nice to see that there is still an element of free speech as the policeman is allowed to say - "We would say, however, that the removal of the toll booths has vastly improved the traffic flow at the bridge and you now don’t have people sitting in queues for 10 or 20 minutes waiting to get home."
What the policeman says will not be welcome news to Scotland's man in London who plans to inflict as many road tolls as he can get away with. By concidence, Dougie gives an "in car" interview in today's Paisley Daily Express - "BUDDIES KEEP MY FEET FIRMLY ON THE GROUND".
Last Saturday's Evening News reported - "Tram dreams are off the rails warns Labour think tank".
Friday 23 March 2007
Today's Scotsman reports that the chairwoman of the Scottish Council of Development and Industry has attacked MSPs for not doing enough to prepare for the threats from English nationalists and she called Scottish opposition to road pricing "somewhat depressing". Bearing in mind Monday's call from the FTA, are the establishment getting together?
Monday's Courier said that the Tay bridge was getting into debt because of repairs costs - "Warning that tolls will have to rise".
Monday's Courier also had an amazing letter from the Scottish head of the Freight Transport Association selling road pricing - (first letter).
Saturday 17 March 2007
The Tories and the Lib Dems are still fighting over road pricing in the Shetlands - Shetland Today - "Tory MP slams 'Tavish's Toll Taxes'".
Wednesday 14 March 2007
Bruce Whitehead who we think lives in South Queensferry argues against a new Forth road bridge. Perhaps he wants to keep the Fifers out! Evening News - "Cross out plans for the Forth".
Tuesday 13 March 2007
Report on the toy bridge at Kincardine - Courier - "Nascent bridge sets forth across river".
Monday 12 March 2007
Douglas Fraser, the Herald's political editor, is perhaps the only man apart from Tavish who is campaigning for more tolls. In this morning's paper he talks about party leaders "playing on fear" and says - "It makes people defend the unpopular or indefensible - of the current system of fuel duty instead of road tolls".
Dundee Council is asking the new transport body (covering Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross and Stirling) to back removal of tolls on Tay bridge - Courier - "Asking transport authority to back scrapping of tolls".
Friday 9 March 2007
You may think that Tavish and his colleagues are all in favour of road tolls. Didn't he say that they were so keen, he wanted Scotland to have the toll tax before England? Well now it seems that this was not so, and that road pricing "Is a Conservative party policy". That would be true south of the border, but it is not what Scottish Tories are now saying. To add to the confusion, one of Tavish's colleagues - Alistair Carmichael, a Westminster Lib Dem MP - is still selling the idea - The Shetland News - "Parties trade blows over road charging".
The Courier has a letter from Ron Caird of Newport-on-Tay about the tolls and MSPs going "Scott free" - 4th letter - "Now we know why".
Wednesday 7 March 2007
The Courier reports that there is a problem, due to a deadline to repay debt on Tay bridge - "Payment crisis over bridge’s £30m debt".
Monday 5 March 2007
Andrew Picken in the Evening News speculates on the tolls if a new Forth road bridge is built - "Lessons from a parallel crossing".
Saturday 3 March 2007
Only two weeks after volunteering Scotland as guinea pigs for the Toll Tax, the Lib Dems now say that they didn't mean it! Scotsman - "Road plan dropped".
The BBC reported yesterday on Robbie the Pict's latest effort to quash the convictions of the Skye toll campaigners - "Tolls campaigner's royal appeal". Andy Anderson, the ex General Secretary of SKAT is also pressing for the convictions to be reversed, and has been lobbying MSPs. Though judging by the way Greens, Labour and Lib Dems united the other week to keep the remaining tolls, there is little hope at the moment that this injustice will be addressed.
Yesterday the Shetland Times reported that - "Tory and Tavish trade verbal blows over Executive's road charging plans".
Yesterday's Scotsman had an article - "Why building a new Forth Road Bridge is like having children". It can be seem online but only if you pay.
Thursday 1 March 2007
The Scotsman today published part of a letter from us. Here is the full letter -
I hope that the people of Scotland are not going to fall for the misleading statements that are being made about road pricing.
On Thursday the Transport Minister told MSPs that "Road pricing is a replacement cost, not an additional cost." The Minister appears
to be ignorant of the fact that the Department for Transport in London commissioned consultants to estimate the costs. They
calculated that the initial cost of implementing this could be £62 billion with another £5 billion a year running costs on top of
that. Based on these figures the average yearly cost would be about £10 billion. For comparison the annual cost of collecting and
enforcing fuel duty is just £45 million.
Those Scotsman readers who signed the Peter Roberts petition will have received an email from Tony Blair. It has been carefully
crafted by the spin masters. It claims to give "Independent viewpoints, both for and against". This is not so. The only
organisations that have been campaigning against road pricing are the Association of British Drivers and ourselves. If you want to
see the real case against road pricing, then you will have to go to the road pricing page on our no tolls website.
The Dunfermline Press report on the latest meeting of the Forth road bridge board - "New Forth crossing should last 120 years".
The SNP have launched a "NO Toll Tax" campaign. Here is the press release, which isn't yet on their web site -
"At a news briefing in Edinburgh today [Monday], Scottish National
Party leader Mr Alex Salmond MP published the SNP's latest campaign
image – "No Toll Tax" – opposing the road pricing scheme being
suggested by Labour and Lib Dems. Mr Salmond
"The 'Toll Tax' will be an issue in the Scottish election. Labour and
the Lib Dems have made it perfectly clear that they regard a
complicated and costly system of road pricing as being an option after
"The Transport Minister, Tavish Scott, says that since Westminster is
making 'glacial' progress towards road pricing, Scotland should have
the Toll Tax first. In other words, he wants Scotland to be a guinea
pig. That is just one way the Lab/Lib Toll Tax is like the Tories'
Poll Tax in the 1980s.
"A Toll Tax to drive on Scotland's roads would be an expensive,
bureaucratic nightmare. It would hit every Scottish family – and hit
the poorest hardest.
"A Toll Tax would also drive vehicles onto cheaper roads, causing real
environmental damage. Lorries would trundle through towns and
villages with roads ill-suited to heavy traffic. For example, instead
of using the M8, traffic would divert through places like Bathgate,
Broxburn and Airdrie.
"On BBC Question Time last Thursday, neither Nicol Stephen nor Lord
Foulkes could coherently explain how a Toll Tax would work. The
lesson of the Poll Tax is that we can't allow Scotland to be used as a
test-bed for another ill-thought out tax.
"We need real alternatives for drivers that really work. We need to
bring the rail network into the 21st century; we can protect our
environment by switching to cleaner bio-fuels; we should extend park
and ride services around each of our cities. And in the modern
communications world, there should be a far greater ability for people
to work from home, or to work flexibly to enable them to avoid rush
hours and peak congestion.
"These are practical measures - which would cut traffic by millions of
road miles. What Scotland doesn't need is a Toll Tax – and the people
can stop it in its tracks at the election."
Wednesday 28 February 2007
Michael Wilson from Dundee opposes road pricing and suggests intead - "Place ‘No entry except for emergency services’ signs round city centres and ration motor fuel according to need.".
The Scotsman yesterday reported on the possible cost of driving from Glasgow to Edinburgh if road pricing is introduced - "'£40 tax' for driving from Edinburgh to Glasgow".
The Scotsman also reported yesterday on the coming election and visited Dunfermline of by-election fame - "Independence? Let's get basics right".
Also yesterday the Inverness Courier suggested that Highland and Islands would be better off if road pricing was introduced as petrol duty would be scrapped - "Devolving taxation to help Scottish business". This may or may not be so. The only certainty is that the average driver will pay a lot more because of the cost of installing and running the system.
Monday's Courier had a letter from NAATS on the likely tolls on a new Forth road bridge and a letter from John Ritchie of Montrose on road pricing - (second and third letters).
Sunday 25 February 2007
Does the Scotsman back road tolls? Here is a bit from today's Scotland on Sunday, you can take it either way - "AM I the only person in the country who feels sorry for poor Tavish Scott? The man comes up with a perfectly sensible suggestion to slash road tax and fuel duty for all motorists, and then load it on to a congestion charge for wage-slave drivers who are compelled to drive in towns during rush hour, and car owners everywhere react with typical irrational fury. As the owner of an extremely thirsty motor, which attracts the highest rate of road tax, which is hardly driven during rush hour, and which spends most of its time on rural roads, can I just say the whole thing sounds fine to me."
Saturday 24 February 2007
Some stories from this morning's Courier - "New Forth bridge £10 toll likely —expert" "£15m needed for repairs" "Weekend contraflows on bridge" "Cost of crossing the Tay runs at £3.6m this year".
Friday 23 February 2007
The last week has been quite eventful!
On Monday the FOE were calling for more tolls - BBC - "Campaigners make road charge call" Scotsman - "Executive 'must examine use of road tolling'".
On Monday night, in the Assembly Rooms Edinburgh in "Ask Jack" on Forth One radio, the First Minister was asked about the bridge tolls by Tom Minogue of NAAT Scotland. Jack replied that the tolls on the existing bridge should remain and linked their existence to the financing of any new crossing. The replies were the basis of this story from Steve Bargeton in Wednesday's Courier - "Spectre of £4 Forth bridge toll returns".
There seems to be some confusion over whether the Executive intend that any new Forth crossing is linked to the keeping of the tolls. There should be no confusion as Tavish Scott's failed amendment to the SNP motion two weeks ago included "notes that the SNP's sums do not add up and that under its current plans the SNP would not be able to afford to lift the tolls and pay for the construction of a new crossing".
This clinging on to tolls is pitiful. The tolls on the two bridges raise a gross amount of about £16 million, (Forth £12m, Tay £4m). From this you then have to deduct the costs of toll collection. How far will this go towards paying for a crossing that they say will cost one billion pounds?
The only possible reason for keeping the tolls is that they plan to toll the new crossing. If like the Skye bridge it is financed through the PFI rip off, then the return toll for a one billion pound crossing would be about £10. The MSPs may be the only ones who can afford to use it. This was covered in more detail by Ally McRoberts in the Dunfermline Press - "Expert fears a £10 toll".
The Scotsman also covered the story of what the First Minister said - "Forth bridge tolls 'are here to stay', says First Minister". There are a lot of comments appended to the story by Scotsman readers starting - "Hit the road Jack. Don't come back no more no more"!!!
On Tuesday night the Peter Roberts petition against road pricing closed. Wednesday's news was full of this and the response from the PM - Scotsman (Thursday) - "Blair sends 1.8m e-mails to try to sway opponents of road pricing".
There is a LOT more about this on our main news page.
Scotland has a major interest in these plans for tolls on most roads. Not only were the present and next tenants of 10 Downing Street born in Scotland, but this plan was hatched by Alistair and is being continued by Duggie!!!
On Wednesday it was revealed that the Tories were not only opposing bridge tolls, but had also come out firmly against road pricing - BBC - "Tory website opposes road tolls" They have started a website and petition - "Scotland Says NO to Road Tolls". As we already have a petition this seems to be a cross between a stunt and a honeypot.
We of course warmly welcome the recent support of the Tories for the removal of the bridge tolls, and their opposition (so far only north of the border) to proposals for tolls on most roads. But the fight against tolls has been going on since all the way back to 1995 when Skye and Kyle Against Tolls was formed. Our alliance already has a petition calling on the Prime Minister to scrap ALL tolls, "congestion charging" and "road pricing", and by the time our petition closes it will probably be Gordon Brown sitting in number 10. Why have the Tories in Scotland decided to start a petition of their own, rather than supporting ours?
Also on Wednesday the Courier had a couple of letters about the Executive backing road pricing.(top two letters). One of them is from somebody connected with "Scotland Says NO to Road Tolls", though we notice that they did not sign our petition a year ago against bridge tolls.
Wednesday's Evening News had a couple of letters on tolls. The first argues that a new Forth Crossing should be to the EAST of Edinburgh. The second is from Bruce Young of the Association of British Drivers who are opposed to road pricing.
The Courier reported on Thursday that Helen Eadie was pressing Labour leaders to reverse their pro tolls stance "MSP warns of tolls polls meltdown".
The issue of the plans coming from London for tolls on most roads was raised by the Tories yesterday at Holyrood - Herald - "Parties debate road pricing schemes" (report before the debate) BBC - Minister backs road toll schemes". Official Minute of the debate.
The only ones who want more road tolls are those who want to force drivers off the road, and those who see it as another way of
milking more money from drivers. This proposed toll tax is an even dafter idea than the poll tax. The cost of implementing it and
trying to enforce it will be astronomical. Instead of wasting billions on this, they MUST improve the roads and the transport
The Executive again sought to mislead people by saying that the toll tax would not be an extra tax but would replace other taxes - Scotsman - "Road tolls a 'replacement tax' not extra cost, claims Tavish Scott". This is impossible as they would have to raise an extra £10 billion a year in tax just to cover the cost of setting up and running the system.
The issues of the bridge tolls and plans for tolls on most roads were combined in this report in today's Courier - "New crossing could be easily financed—claim". Well done to the Courier which seems to be the only major paper in Scotland which reports the case against tolls.
On the Thursday we sent this press release out, but we must have forgotten to put a stamp on it -
Having narrowly fought off SNP and Tory demands two weeks ago that the last two bridge tolls be removed, the Executive are now
insisting that they will stick with Westminster in pushing a Toll tax on most roads.
This is monumental folly. Have the Executive swallowed the spin coming from their colleagues down South?
Did Douglas Alexander or his predecessor, Alistair Darling, not whisper in their ears that the cost of implementing this could be
£62 billion with another £5 billion a year running costs on top of that? (The figures calculated by Deloitte, consultants
commissioned by Department for Transport in 2004 to work out the cost.)
Those who want road tolls have accused us and other campaigners of spreading myths. The reality is that those, north and south of
the border, who are pushing for more tolls are desperately trying to fool people into accepting this ludicrous and wasteful tax.
They are so desperate that when the PM gave his reply to the Peter Roberts petition, groups that have mainly campaigned for road
tolls were presented as "Independent views on road pricing - for and against". Neither of the two groups that have been most
fiercely against road tolls - ourselves and the Association of British Drivers are mentioned.
The Executive seems intent on hurling themselves on to the rocks. The voters at the coming election should make it clear that they
are not going to be fooled into joining them.
PS. Wednesday must have been "Tolls Day" as it was also reported - BBC - "Forth bridge in remote toll trial" Evening News - "Cash-free bridge toll trial launched". An Evening News reader from South Queensferry's comment is - "FETA does that stand for :- FIND EVERY TAX AVAILABLE?"
It is amazing that when the Executive are sitting on the results of their tolls "study" and when both the SNP and the Tories are calling for tolls to be removed, the bridge board are spending time and money on new toll systems.
Would it not be better if instead of testing new toll systems, all attention was focussed on making sure that lorries and other vehicles can continue to use the bridge at all.
Tuesday 20 February 2007
A press release that we sent out as the Peter Roberts petition closed. It went west and beneath the waves -
"The tremendous success of the Peter Roberts petition shows that people don't want tolls in any form."
"They will not be fooled by calling them "congestion charges" or "road pricing". They recognise this as a ploy to get money from
drivers who are already paying seven times over for their use of the road." (£50 billion taxes compared with £7 billion roads
"They will not be fooled by assurances that most drivers will pay the same or less than now, and only "other" drivers will pay more.
They know that these systems cost many billions to set up, and billions more to run." (Implementation cost according to Government
at Westminster of up to £62 billion and running costs of £5 billion.)
"They will not be fooled by assurances that this scheme is not meant to try and force less well off drivers off the road. MPs, MSPs
and others who claim expenses and the drivers of big luxury cars are not the ones who will be chased off the road."
"They will not be fooled by assurances that vehicles will not be monitored. If they were to believe that they might as well believe
in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and WMD."
Forth One - 97.3 has an interview tonight with Jack McConnell. Tom Minogue is to ask him about the tolls. Should be interesting!
From today's Herald - "Road tolls sweetener". Unfortunately they don't mean lifting the existing tolls!
From Scotland on Sunday -
"Over a million object but road plans go ahead" "Welcome to our inclusive government: now shut up" "Car number plate cameras 'first step towards tolls'".
From Saturday's Evening News - more work causing delays on the Forth bridge - "Commuter misery in store with bridge works".
Saturday's Courier said - "Forth tolls collection to cost £1m for year". As they spent millions on the new tolls plaza, we suspect this figure should be higher, but even so what a waste of money. And how much of the bridge tolls has been spent on the A8000 / M9 spur?
Transform Scotland who want road tolls but no roads, argue against a Forth Road bridge in Friday's Courier - (3rd letter. The Greens are also in the Courier attacking the new crossing - "Green MSP rails at new crossing plan".
From Friday's Fife Herald - "BRIDGE TOLLS TO REMAIN HIGH ON ELECTION AGENDA". Let's hope so, but it would be better if the tolls were off the agenda and off the bridges.
The Herald had these two letters from toll supporters - "Bridge tolls do not cause congestion".
Some more in last Thursday's papers about a new bridge - Herald - "New Forth crossing could cost £3bn".
Thursday 15 February 2007
Lots in the papers about a new Forth road bridge including - Evening News - "'What's vital now is that the best route is chosen'" Courier - "Go-ahead for new £1bn Forth crossing" Courier - "Crossing decision welcomed" Telegraph - "A blue chip project? It sends a shudder down my spine" Scotsman - "Forth crossing is 'Go' yet still more questions than answers".
A report in the Dunfermline Press included this from Tom Minogue - “We’ve been happy to welcome all the politicians into our fold since the Dunfermline by-election. Now that they’ve converted from supporting tolls to opposing them, they should remember that tolls are wrong on the existing bridge, a new bridge or a new tunnel.We also need a cold, calculated look at the issues involved as I don’t think Feta, having let the bridge get into its current state and causing this crisis, are the people we should be listening to when it comes to what we do now.”
The situation is incredible, the Executive seem to have been bounced into a decision by the same people who fought to keep tolls (though nearly everyone would like to see a new bridge). Can these people be trusted? And most important of all how can they decide to build a bridge without knowing if it will be tolled? A billion pound bridge will require £10 tolls. Who will be able to afford to use it?
Fife Today says - "Campaigners vow toll fight will go on". We thought that this must mean us, with SKAT, one of the founder members of our alliance having started the fight in 1995. But no, we don't get a mention!
Today's Courier has letters about the tolls. A. Edwards from St Andrews says that "There should be no Tay toll while work goes on" and A. P. Seggie from Blairgowrie says he is happy to pay bridge tolls provided that others are "prepared to pay tolls to build and maintain footpaths and roads they walk, ride or drive on. What could be fairer or more reasonable than this?” - (1st and 4th letters).
Another report about the suggestion that Glasgow should increase parking fess to reduce congestion, from Wednesday night's Evening Times - "Backlash feared over bid for higher parking fees".
Wednesday 14 February 2007
Tonight the BBC has - "New Forth crossing plans approved".This morning the Scotsman said - "New Forth crossing to be policy", and the Courier also had another story on "need for new crossing".
For anyone wondering what a future of more tolls would be like, a couple from Scotland who moved south could tell them - "Disabled couple's £750 congestion charge bill".
Today's Courier has letters defending the Greens for voting for tolls - (last three letters).
The Greens also had their views in Fife Today and the Herald, the latter is a paper that often seems quite happy for tolls to be kept in the East. But they also had these anti tolls letters - "How tolls increase congestion and pollution".
The Evening Times says - "Council chiefs back higher parking fees over road tolls".
Tuesday's Herald said - "There will be a price to pay for road charging".
In Tuesday's Courier were letters about the tolls from Stewart Hunter of Dundee and George Gavine of Monikie - (second and third letters).
Tuesday's Courier had a story about the sorry state of the roads, in Perthshire, but it could be anywhere - "Demand for action to improve roads".
Monday 12 February 2007
The Federation of Small Businesses in Fife are still pushing for the two tolls to be removed - Courier - "Small firms still want tolls abolished".
Saturday 10 February 2007
Two letters in this morning's Courier on the Tolls vote, one from Alan Evans of Flisk and one from us - (first two letters).
Two reports on Friday night on the Tolls vote - Evening News - "Labour names McMahon as Holyrood whip" Evening Times - "Tolls fight ‘is not over’".
What they want you to believe about a new Forth crossing - BBC - "Ministers to back Forth crossing". The Ministers who say that they want a new Forth crossing are the same people who have fought to keep tolls on both the Forth and Tay. The assumption must be that this new crossing would also be tolled. We have calculated that the return tolls for cars would be about £7. The Ministers will be the only ones who will be able to afford to use their new crossing.
Friday 9 February 2007
Official report of yesterday's tolls debate (click on "FORTH AND TAY BRIDGE TOLLS" to see whole debate or you can jump to a particular part using the lower links) Official report - the voting.
News reports - Courier - "Greens under attack as the tolls rebellion fails" Courier - "No surprise, says dejected lord provost" Scotsman - "Tolls prove a bridge too far for Labour's chief whip" Herald - "Greens back executive in vote to keep bridge tolls" Herald - "Alex’s preference for London gives Jack a debating point".
Thursday 8 February 2007
Tricia Marwick's motion asking that the tolls be removed was defeated by 65 votes to 58, with 1 abstention. Both the Green Party and the Executive had moved wrecking amendments to Tricia Marwick's motion that asked that the tolls be removed. Only the Green Party voted for their amendment. The Executive amendment would normally have been carried, but it was defeated by the SNP, Tories, Greens and a small number of Labour and Lib Dem rebels - BBC - "Bridges debate ends in stalemate" (updated from earlier today).
In our view this was not a stalemate, the MSPs who defeated the original motion effectively condemned not only those of Fife and Tayside, but their own constituents to a future of more and more tolls, "congestion charging" and "road pricing".
We have not seen the details of the voting yet, but it is likely that some of those voting to keep the tolls, previously supported the removal of the Skye and the Erskine tolls - what does this vote say about them?
Prior to today's debate we sent a message to MSPs and another one before the vote. (The messages are here.) (The messages refer to a letter from Andy Anderson, the ex General Secretary of SKAT, which is here.)
. Those who voted to keep the tolls can not claim ignorance.
We issued this statement after the vote -
"The people of Fife and Tayside will be extremely disappointed. The tolls should have been removed many years ago. Today's vote is a clear signal that the Executive is determined to hang on to both the tolls. Any promises to remove the tolls that may appear in the manifestos of those parties that voted for the toll will be worthless.
The people in the rest of Scotland may feel that today's vote does not affect them, but it probably will. These two tolls are being
kept as a bridgehead for the eventual introduction of tolls to the rest of Scotland, albeit that they will be disguised with names
like "congestion charging" or "road pricing"."
Reports after this morning's debate but before the vote - Evening News - "Executive faces defeat over Forth Road Bridge tolls" Evening News - "Labour whip quits to axe bridge tolls".
Two wrecking amendments have been moved - the first by the Greens, the second by the Minister -
S2M-5535.1 Mark Ballard: Forth and Tay Road Bridges Tolls—As an amendment to motion (S2M-5535) in the name of Tricia Marwick, leave out from "the tolls" to end and insert "existing tolls on the Forth Road Bridge and the Tay Road Bridge should be replaced with a scheme of variable charging which takes into account factors such as occupancy levels, peak hour traffic flows and specific exemptions, including for public transport, and that the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board and the Forth Transport Estuary Forum should be given more flexibility to use toll revenues to deal with transport issues in the vicinity."
S2M-5535.2 Tavish Scott: Forth and Tay Road Bridges Tolls—As an amendment to motion (S2M-5535) in the name of Tricia Marwick, leave out from "believes" to end and insert "commits to a replacement crossing across the Forth and calls on the Cabinet to commit to preparatory work to start immediately; calls for the case for abolition of the tolls on the Fife Bridges to be considered in the light of the commitment to the new crossing; notes that the SNP’s sums do not add up and that under its current plans the SNP would not be able to afford to lift the tolls and pay for the construction of a new crossing; notes that its proposals do not address the impact of congestion or other environmental, social and economic impacts, and notes the importance of a sustainable transport policy, including smart tolling and investment in public transport to meet the long-term needs of Scotland."
Reports before today's debate - Courier - "Backbenchers to rebel on crucial bridge tolls vote"
Courier - "An “unfair and inequitable” tax"
Courier - "Council united in its opposition"
Scotsman - "Executive faces revolt over bridge tolls".
Wednesday 7 February 2007
Fife Today reports - "BRIDGE TRAVELLERS RIPPED OFF, CLAIMS COUNCIL".
Two SNP MSPs have written to the Transport Minister asking to see the report of the Tolls study that the Executive commissioned - Courier - "Pressure on Executive to release tolls report". In our opinion, the report will say what the Executive wanted it to say. Why bother to read it?
This morning's Scotsman has a letter "Freeing up the bridges" from Tom Minogue, welcoming the motion to be debated tomorrow.
Tuesday 6 February 2007
The Courier today published a brief letter from us with our reaction to the news of the SNP motion - (first letter).
There is also a letter about the dangers of falling off the Forth road bridge!
Monday 5 February 2007
MSPs are being given a chance to vote on the future of the two tolls, as the SNP have put down a motion for Thursday. Incredibly this will be the first time that they have voted on both the two tolls - Courier - "New chance for MSPs to scrap bridge tolls" Evening News - "MSPs to vote on SNP bid to scrap tolls on Forth Road Bridge".
Tuesday 30 January 2007
The Scottish Tories are now backing the removal of BOTH the tolls - Courier - "Abolition of bridge tolls a step closer" Evening News - "Tories pledge to scrap tolls on the Forth Road Bridge".
We welcome the news that the Tories have joined with the SNP in calling for the removal of both tolls. Though it is
odd that not a single MSP from any party has ever moved this.
Even odder is that the Executive seem to have their heads buried in the sand. They have delayed the publication of the results of
the consultation which closed last August, and they will not yet release the tolls "study" which was supposed to be complete by
The study is in any case a waste of time as the Executive will have got the answers that they wanted from the London consultants.
What is really needed is for the Executive to admit that the continuation of the tolls is an unnecessary pain suffered by the people
of Fife and Tayside. They should declare that they will end the tolls now; people want more than statements in manifestos as to what
may happen after the election.
Monday 29 January 2007
The leading Environment official in the Executive is commuting to his Edinburgh job from Gloucestershire by plane - BBC - "Green adviser's 500-mile commute". The official may be following the example of the Transport Minister who commutes by plane from the Shetlands - at least that way the Minister doesn't have to claim back road tolls!
Report in the Courier on the problem with the Tay bridge lampposts and high winds causing closures.
Ian Foggie of Carnoustie has written to Gordon Brown suggesting that road tax be scrapped - "Road tax dodging ‘solution’".
Saturday 27 January 2007
Today's Courier reports that Fife Council is still backing the fight against the tolls - "Call for clear pledge on tolls". We would like the voice of the councillors to be heard more strongly and more frequently, though when compared with the apparently struck dumb or gagged MSPs, the councillors are roaring like lions.
Thursday's Evening News said that at a meeting in Dunfermline on Wednesday - "Firms want to go through with tunnel". though if you read the comments that were posted on this story, it seems that the meeting was far from friendly.
Thursday 25 January 2007
This morning's Courier reports on backing for the idea of a tunnel rather than a bridge - "Pressure mounts for a Forth tunnel".
Last Thursday and Saturday the Courier reported that the Executive were refusing to release the results of the tolls "study" that they commissioned last year - "Bridges study in hands of Executive" "Plea to reveal tolls study findings".
According to the brief given to the consultants their recommendations were supposed to be ready by the 11th December. What their report is likely to say is not a mystery, as the London based consultants hired by the Executive usually do work for English toll operators who are trying to justify toll increases.
The real mystery is why is the Executive sitting on the report. One possible explanation is that the two coalition parties hope to spin this out till after the elections.
Unfortunately there seems to be very little being done to end both the Forth and the Tay tolls by any of the parties. The only exception was Bruce Crawford's Members' Bill, and even that was somehow stopped without coming any where near to a vote of MSPs. In May, perhaps those who want to see an end to both the tolls will have to put their election crosses against A.N.Other.
The Sunday Herald reported that the SNP want to put a toll on warheads being transported to Trident base. At £1,000,000 a go, they reckon it would earn £85 million - "SNP plan £1m toll for Trident". On Monday the BBC reported the Labour reaction - "SNP Trident toll plan a 'gimmick'".
Some of the stories in the Evening News over the last few weeks-
- On the 13th, the News reported that a Tory MSP was "disappointed that the Transport Minister could not give me cast-iron reassurance that legislation, which will mean a new crossing within the next 20 years, is imminent".
- On the 16th, the News reported that road hauliers wanted a bridge and not a tunnel - "Truck bosses fail to share tunnel vision".
- On the 18th, Alan Roden in the News reported that there are to be major restrictions on the bridge while "worn-out joints are replaced". Fortunately work doesn't start till 2010, though one way or another it seems that the lives of bridge users is to be as miserable as possible - "Bridge set for biggest roadworks in 43 years"
- On the 22nd more misery - "Tunnel champion warns of chaos on road bridge"
Thursday 18 January 2007
Chris Grayling, the UK shadow Transport Secretary will be at the Tay bridge today, backing the removal of the tolls. What a pity that the Tories seem to be backing the Executive and want to keep the Forth tolls.
On Monday the Tay Road Bridge again took a battering from high winds, causing restrictions and partial closure - Tuesday's Evening Telegraph.
Monday's Evening Times reports that Glasgow Chamber of Commerce say that - "Congestion charge ‘will damage city centre’".
Friday 12 January 2007
Today's papers confirm that there will be major job losses as NCR closes its Dundee factory and opens one in Hungary.
"Transport Briefing" reports that the authorities want to introduce road pricing into the Glasgow aea - "Glasgow transport framework looks at road pricing". To see what a disaster this would be, look aBridge set for biggest roadworks in 43 years
t our "Road pricing" page.
Yesterday's Courier had a followup on the lamp post - "Answers sought over lamp-posts".
Wednesday 10 January 2007
Tay road bridge was closed for 6 hours yesterday due to winds which brought down a lamp post - Courier.
Saturday 6 January 2007
Cold water is thrown over the suggestion that any new crossing of the Forth should be a causeway - Courier -"Causeway “unlikely” as practical Forth crossing".
Friday 5 January 2007
The Courier has a letter from Angus Whitton replying to Green Party claims that a new Forth road bridge will add to congestion - (scroll down to last letter).
Thursday 4 January 2007
This morning's Scotsman has a radical new idea for crossing the Forth - a causeway. The dam would generate electricity, though there would be some objections from ship owners as ships would have to go through a lock to reach the upper river.
Tuesday 2 January 2007
The Courier reports that the Federation of Small Businesses are pressing for a tunnel - "Forth tunnel gets backing".
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