Cartoon raps out pro-toll message

CAMPAIGNERS battling for a "yes" vote in the city’s road tolls referendum today unveiled their secret weapon against the scheme’s critics - Congestion Man.

The muscular superhero is the star of a road-toll "rap" in which he goes to the rescue of a motorist stuck in a traffic jam in a cartoon.

Leaders of the Yes to Edinburgh drive say Congestion Man is aimed at helping dispel the myths about congestion charging in Edinburgh.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The campaigners have also distributed thousands of postcards making clear the congestion charge does not apply in the evening or at weekends or to motorists leaving the city.

A key element of the "yes" campaign has been to stress the maximum charge a motorist will incur each day will be 2 - no matter how many times they cross one of the two cordons.

Congestion Man appears out of a puff of smoke in the cartoon to promise the aggrieved driver: "If you pay the charge, you’ll be laughing, man. Faster car journeys and less traffic jams."

He also declares: "We’ve come to a conclusion and we’ve got a solution, for sorting this pollution."

The cartoon is to be sent to e-mail addresses across the city by supporters in the run-up to ballot papers being sent out next week and also features on the official campaign website.

Yes to Edinburgh has already deployed the skills of Edinburgh-based animator Joe Richardson for a cartoon depicting a piper on Princes Street keeling over after apparently choking on traffic fumes.

Now the son of campaign chairman Ray Perman, 18-year-old Bobby, has written a soundtrack. Bobby is an aspiring hip-hop producer, known as S-Type, who released his debut single - Soul for Your Stereo - earlier this month on Edinburgh-based Surface Pressure Records.

The pair had teamed up previously to produce an internet-based Christmas card for the Glasgow-based dance music radio station Radio Magnetic.

A spokeswoman for Yes to Edinburgh said: "We wanted to use some of the great young talent in Edinburgh to get over some of the arguments in favour of congestion charging in a novel and amusing way.

"Many people like the benefits that congestion charging will bring but have the impression that they will have to pay each time they drive their car. This is far from the truth - as Congestion Man makes clear.

"

Pro-toll campaigners claim 240 people a year die in Edinburgh as a result of air pollution. They have targeted the 42 per cent of households in the city who do not have access to a car for support.

The council says that tolls are necessary to cope with a predicted 50 per cent rise in congestion over the next 20 years.

A spokesman for Transform Scotland, the sustainable transport lobby group, responded in rhyme: "This city’s suffering from chronic congestion/ It needs a cure for this indigestion/ Can we make it more graphic/ You’re gonna choke in this traffic/If you’re stuck in a jam/ Call Congestion Man/ He’s got a solution for stopping this pollution/ You gotta vote yes to clean up this mess./ Relieve your stress, just go and vote yes."

City transport leader Andrew Burns said: "Although the animation is light-hearted its message content is deadly serious.

"I’m confident Congestion Man will help get this message over to an important sector of the population in the city."