City MSPs refuse to back tolls abolition

TWO city MSPs have refused to back the abolition of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge in protest at a lack of action to prevent increased congestion and pollution in Edinburgh.

Liberal Democrats Margaret Smith and Mike Pringle abstained yesterday when MSPs voted 107-4 to support the principle of scrapping the charges.

Ms Smith, MSP for Edinburgh West, said studies had suggested lifting the tolls would mean an increase in traffic of up to 20 per cent through her constituency.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And she said there was no sign of significant measures to combat the problem or curb further traffic growth.

Ms Smith said: "I was seeking reassurance that the Government takes this issue seriously and will put in place finance and support necessary to reduce the traffic levels and impact in West Edinburgh.

"I failed to get those reassurances and as a result there was no way I could support what they were coming forward with."

Mr Pringle, MSP for Edinburgh South, said he was also concerned about more congestion. "There will be a lot more traffic coming across the bridge and that will have an effect in Edinburgh," he said.

During yesterday's debate Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said scrapping the tolls on the Forth and Tay bridges was a matter of fairness.

He said: "We will end an injustice to the people of Fife, Tayside and the Lothians, and to all who have had to pay tolls on these bridges when tolls have been removed elsewhere."

The parliament's cross-party transport committee backed scrapping the tolls, but said the government had to take steps to reduce congestion and tackle increased noise and carbon emissions.