National Alliance Against Tolls - Edinburgh

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

The failure of the anti roads lobby was a blow to the UK government who see Tolls as a source of extra money, and a way of avoiding spending on road improvements. Toll supporters said that if people were too "short-sighted" to vote for tolls, then tolls would be forced on them. According to the Guardian, an adviser to Alistair Darling (then Secretary of State for both Scotland and Transport) "bemoaned" Edinburgh's "fickle" voters and had: "lost faith in democracy."
We have all been warned, they will use every trick they can to get Tolls, though they won't risk the ballot box again.

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

URGENT Tuesday 22nd Feb 2005- Result of the Toll Poll -
No 133,678 to Yes 45,965!
The Edinburgh people have seen through the myths, and rejected Tolls.

If you can help with what may be a continuing fight against the Toll, then contact:-  NAAT Scotland

AFTER THE RESULT - Reactions and What now?

star The rest of this page is unchanged since the Toll Poll star
What is the Edinburgh Toll?
What about the "Yes" claims?
Is congestion of roads a problem and what should be done about it?
Can Tolls be used to finance improvements to public transport?
What about London? 1. General
2. Report on Impact on London
3. Effect on London Businesses
How about the Toll Poll?
A Community Perspective - Why You Should Vote No
Some other Views
Toll & Air Pollution
What other web sites are there?

What is the Edinburgh Toll?

It is a Toll Zone, i.e. it applies to an area and not just one road or river crossing.
There are 2 existing Toll Zones in Britain.
The Durham one started on 1st October 2002 and is 2, but it only applies to ONE street (by the cathedral and castle).
The other is the London one which started on 17th February 2003 and is currently 5 a day.
Ken Livingstone is currently trying to get the London toll increased to 8 a day and have the Zone enlarged. Might this happen in Edinburgh?

The Toll proposed for Edinburgh is unusual, in that it consists of 2 zones.
The inner zone is the central area of Edinburgh.
The outer zone is most of the rest of Edinburgh:-  Zone Maps

Initially the Toll will be set at 2 a day. It will be the same rate for all vehicles though some types of vehicle or user will be exempt.

The Edinburgh Toll would apply Monday to Friday, the Inner zone for most of the day (from 7 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening), the Outer zone for 3 hours (from 7 in the morning to 10 in the morning).

The toll is due if you enter Edinburgh (the outer boundary does not coincide with the Edinburgh boundary, but it is proposed that people who live outside the outer Toll boundary but within the Edinburgh city boundary would be exempt) or cross the boundary from the outer to the inner zone. This gives some strange results:- A resident of Edinburgh who has been away would have to pay to come home if their return was between 7 and 10 in the morning (or up to 6.30 PM if their journey home meant that they crossed the inner cordon).

Someone not resident in Edinburgh will have to pay what is in effect a border tax to enter their capital city before 10 AM.

You could drive round all day, and you would not pay a toll, providing that you either stayed within the inner zone or stayed within the outer zone.
All vehicles pay the same toll - a small petrol driven efficient car will pay the same as a large car or a heavy goods vehicle.

Someone driving round all day will pay no more than someone making a short journey that goes across a toll boundary.

It is proposed to exempt buses, taxis, private hire cars and "approved car club vehicles" (a form of car hire).
So the vehicles that are on the road the most will not pay any toll!.

Toll would be administered in the same way as the London Toll:-.
There would be cameras along the Zone boundaries. The cameras would be linked to "automatic" identification of number plates. You would pay the toll using credit/debit cards over the Internet or by phone or text message. There would also be payment terminals in shops. They say you could also pay by post. You can pay in advance or up to midnight the following night.
In London about 40% of the income comes from massive penalties against those who have not paid in time.

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What about the "Yes" claims?

Even those who say they will vote "No" in the Toll Poll seem to accept some of the claims of those who want to force cars off the road:- Congestion will be reduced.
Big profit to spend on public transport.
Less pollution.
Businesses won't be affected.
This is what we think of the   star "YES" CLAIMS star

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Is congestion of roads a problem and what should be done about it?

Is Car Congestion in cities a Con trick?   Congestion?

The late Dr Alan Werninck on behalf of the Association of British Drivers submitted evidence to the Summer 2004 Inquiry. In summary he said:-
"We do not see congestion as a severe problem in Edinburgh but such congestion as there is could be alleviated by:-
1. Reopening roads previously closed off;
2. Removing obstructive "traffic calming";
3. Limiting bus lanes to routes where there is adequate road space;
4. Widening roads and putting in new roads as needed;
5. Building a sufficient number of easily accessible, low-cost multi-storey car parks near the city centre, streaming traffic towards and away from them and servicing them with shuttle buses between them crossing the city centre."
There are other views on congestion and what might be done about it. Some of the possibilities include encouraging people to walk, cycle or get the bus. People can also be encouraged to car share. None of these are easy to do, but for instance the councils could set up and administer a car share service, where they matched people who wanted to share (Fife Council have started a trial scheme, which is not yet open to all).
Diesel engined buses and lorries can of course cause more air pollution than petrol driven cars, but this is an area where the government at Westminster could encourage and enforce better controls such as particulate traps.

Tolls do little to reduce congestion as for most drivers the car is the most convenient "vehicle" for the journey they wish to make at the time that they wish to make it. Drivers will try and avoid the toll while still using the car, this may mean that they actually make longer distance journeys to detour around the toll zone boundaries.
Where the driver can't bypass the toll, they will consider making a different journey, i.e. they will go to shops and other facilities that are away from the tolled area.

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Can Tolls be used to finance improvements to public transport?

1. Some forms of public transport i.e. trains and trams, are already massively subsidised in comparison with the numbers that they do and can carry.

2. Road users already contribute to the government at Westminster over 40 billion a year, of which only about 7 billion is spent on roads. So the road user is already massively overtaxed.

3. Tolls are a very inefficient way of gathering income.
In London, even with a 5 daily charge, nearly all the toll vanishes in costs including the fee paid to the private company that administers it. The profit mainly comes from the penalties where drivers have not paid the charge on time.

4.If the Edinburgh charge remains at 2 a day, it is quite possible that the scheme will not only have little effect on traffic (other than diverting it from one street to another) but may also incur a large loss.

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What about London?

Supporters of the Edinburgh Tolls quote the "success" of the London "Congestion Charge". So how do the 2 compare?
There is a great difficulty in answering this question. Facts like the operating hours etc are fairly easy to find. More important things are difficult to impossible to find. Some of the things we would like to know are:- This is what we have found or deduced so far:- Back to top

How about the Toll Poll?

Edinburgh City Council decided (by one vote)on the 9th December 2004 that:-

Voters will be asked to vote 'Yes' in favour or 'No' against to the question:-
"The leaflet enclosed with this ballot paper gives information on the Council's transport proposals for Edinburgh. The Council's 'preferred' strategy includes congestion charging and increased transport investment funded by it. Do you support the Council's 'preferred' strategy?"

This is a "pig in a poke" with Tolls as the only thing you can be sure off.

Ballot papers from Electoral Reform Services were delivered by Royal Mail over Saturday 5th to Tuesday 8th.

The closing date for receipt of completed postal ballots is Monday 21 February 2005 at 9pm. Edinburgh City Council have arranged that papers posted for last collection on Monday will be delivered to them by the 9pm deadline.

The outcome of the referendum will be declared on Tuesday 22 February 2005. The result will be reported to the full Council meeting on Thursday 24 February 2005.

Edinburgh having a poll on the issue is at least one up on London! They didn't have to have a Poll when Ken Livingstone introduced Tolls there. There is a different law in Scotland (the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 and umpteen Regulations made under it), but it is similar i.e. there has to be consultation, but the council does not have to pay any attention to it.
According to Edinburgh about 90% of the comments from their public consultation were opposed to either the whole scheme or part of it. So it is just as well it was only "consultation"!

As Edinburgh doesn't have to have a Poll it apparently does not come under the rules for Referenda enforced by the Electoral Commission. In particular if it came under the rules, then the Commission would have said whether the ballot Question was fair.
Edinburgh have arranged for the independent Electoral Reform Services to send out ballot papers and do the count. It is a pity that they didn't also get the Electoral Reform people to vet the ballot question.

The Toll Poll question is loaded. You are offered a nice shiny apple - public transport improvements, but can only take it if you also accept a dose of poison - tolls. The leaflet (which hasn't yet been published) may sell the transport benefits with glossy "artist's impressions", and of course 35,000 people won't get to vote because they are not on the full electoral register and didn't complete a "referendum form" on time:-
Edinburgh City Council is using the "edited" register and not the full electoral register. If you opted to have your name not passed on to third parties but wanted to be able to vote in the Toll Poll, you had to complete and return a "Referendum form" by January 14.
You can check if you are eligible to vote by ringing 0131 529 4877, Monday to Friday or e-mailing:-  Edinburgh Elections
Some neighbouring Lothian councils are also having a poll. Edinburgh City Council can ignore those results, but you should vote if you can.
Those who don't receive a ballot paper will think that they are in the Ukraine or even Florida!

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A Community Perspective - Why You Should Vote No

Various Community Associations are campaigning for a No vote. Tina Woolnough (who is now the main spokesperson for those opposing the Toll scheme), Lorna Hudson and Fiona Gilbert on behalf of: Blackhall Community Association, Murrayfield Community Council and Wester Coates Amenity Association produced these comments:-

Here are some reasons why we believe everyone should vote "No":- 1. Nearly 1,500 objections were lodged at the Public Inquiry last May. Despite this the City of Edinburgh Council is pressing ahead with what we believe is a flawed scheme.
Over a dozen community councils and local organisations took part in the public inquiry. Many of us were extremely concerned about the severe impact on our communities.

2. Contrary to the Council's spin, their proposal is not "green". To generate funds, the scheme needs cars to keep coming into the city.

3. Traffic is projected to increase on over 80 Edinburgh streets in communities which lie between the cordons. Rat-running, as drivers try to avoid the cordons, will impact on everyone. Most affected areas are: Leith Walk, Canonmills, Inverleith and the Botanic Gardens, Dalry-Blackhall, Corstorphine, Marchmont, Morningside, Queen's Drive, Duddingston and the B701 orbital route.

4. 64% of car journeys will be unaffected, as they will not cross a cordon. This is a congestion-building scheme, not a congestion-busting scheme.

5. "Little total reduction in car travel" is what the Reporters at the Public Inquiry confirmed due to "the nature of the two-cordon scheme".

6. There are no mitigation details and there is no timetable for measures to reduce the impact of the congestion charge on streets which will experience more traffic.

7. No guarantee exists that the transport "goodies" promised by the Council will ever materialise.

8. Alternative public transport improvements are not yet in place. Promised improvements to bus services have not been specified.

9. Major arterial routes, such as the A90 (Queensferry Rd), need major public transport improvements to attract drivers out of their cars. There are no proposals to reduce commuter traffic along this corridor as no Park and Ride is planned for North Edinburgh.

10. The computer modelling used by the Council has a margin of error of 30%.

11. Cost to retailers and restaurateurs is predicted by the Council's consultants to be 70m. Shoppers are already staying away, preferring out-of-town shopping centres such as the Fort.

12. Evidence at the Inquiry forecast that accidents would increase.

13. Most of our city's schools are between the outer and inner cordons and will be badly affected by the predicted increase in traffic between the cordons. Traffic on Annandale St is set to increase 555% - there are six schools within a half mile radius of Annandale St.

14. The Edinburgh residential exemptions are not specified in the draft Charging Order - only a general mention is made. The Council looks set to act against the advice of the Inquiry Reporters, their agents "tie" and their own officers, who all recommended against the residential exemptions. This affects the people of South Queensferry, Kirkliston, Currie and Balerno. Neighbouring local authorities have made a legal challenge to this exemption. When the Charging Order goes before the Scottish Executive, the exemption may have to be dropped.
Residents will be voting in the Poll without knowing what will be included in the final approved Order.

15. Poll question is biased and confusing. Ballot papers will probably be sent out with a heavily-weighted, promotional leaflet. The Council's Outlook newspaper also included unbalanced promotional information and did not point out that many Edinburgh streets will face an increase in traffic as a result of this congestion charging proposal. No mention of negative impacts was made.

16. Low-paid out-of-town shift workers will be amongst the worst affected.

17. Unison trade union said that it would be "a tax on the sick" and that it would cost NHS Lothian 1m per annum as staff and services pay the charge.

18. Ken Livingstone said "Don't do it for the money" as London's scheme has failed to realise the predicted income. Having promised not to increase the charge for 10 years, they are planning a 60% increase.

19. There is already a recruitment problem in many city businesses and in parts of the public sector. People who work in the city and live outside Edinburgh are already reviewing their positions.

20. THERE ARE BETTER SOLUTIONS. Grass-roots, community-based strategies are very successful in encouraging people to review their car use. Projects such as Safer Routes to School encourage children to walk or cycle to school and will affect the travelling habits of the next generation.
Work-based incentives to use public transport would help too. Most of all, improved public transport, along the main arterial roads in the city would go a long way to reduce traffic. Better pedestrian and cycling facilities, along with health-promoting campaigns, could encourage people to walk some of their journey.
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Some other Views

Join in the debate on the Scotsman website at:-  The Scotsman online debate: congestion charging
Some of the views from the debate at the Scotsman are on these links (you may have to scroll down to "your views"):-  Fri 28th January    Sat 29th Jan    Mon 31st Jan - 1    Mon 31st Jan - 2    Tue 1st Feb    Wed 2nd Feb - 1    Wed 2nd Feb - 2    Thu 3rd Feb    Fri 4th Feb - 1    Fri 4th Feb - 2

Other recent views on "Congestion Charges" are below.
Most don't refer to Edinburgh, but the same points apply as in London and elsewhere. We haven't included any pro Toll views!
We add to this from time to time, the more recent views are on the top

You can also go to:-  BBC - Have Your Say  But be warned! It has views from both sides.

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Toll & Air Pollution

There have been claims that voting "Yes" for Tolls will mean an improvement in Air Quality in Edinburgh.
But the Toll will mainly divert traffic on to more residential streets, and most of the Air Pollution in city centre streets does not come from cars!

Health and Air Pollution is an important issue, but there are many other things that individuals, businesses, and governments can do that would make a REAL improvement. You can see some of those that individuals can do at Edinburgh's own web site:-  Air Pollution - Do Your Bit

More of our views on Edinburgh Tolls & Air Pollution:-   star EDINBURGH TOLL & AIR POLLUTION star

You can see the Association of British Drivers views on the issue of Cars and Air Pollution at:-
Vehicle Emissions    Cars - Scapegoats    Environment & Health Issues    Car exhausts    Asthma    Particulates    "Ecobabble"

You can also see this article that was published in carnet. The author is Lance Green, who is pro car, though he hasn't driven since 1977!  
Cars and Air Pollution

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What other web sites are there?

Sites campaigning for a No vote in the February Toll Poll: NO-CONGESTION-CHARGE. (The "Edinburgh Congestion Charge" and "Transport Edinburgh Info" sites have closed down.)

There were two Official sites set up by Edinburgh City Council. They included the Toll Inquiry evidence and report. Unfortunately they are gone, but some of the documents can be still be found by this Google search

There were two other pro Toll sites:- "Get Edinburgh Moving" and "Say Yes to Edinburgh Toll". They are both closed down.

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