Edinburgh ‘not ruling out’ congestion charge

Edinburgh residents rejected plans for a congestion charge 14 years ago - but the council has refused to rule out the measure. PIC: Contributed.
Edinburgh residents rejected plans for a congestion charge 14 years ago - but the council has refused to rule out the measure. PIC: Contributed.
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Congestion charging is on the agenda again for Edinburgh after council bosses refused to rule out bringing forward plans to help reduce traffic in the Capital – 14 years after the idea was rejected by the public.

The city council has included the potential to “explore the introduction of road user charging to manage demand” in its early city centre transformation proposals as one of a range of measures.

In February 2005, Edinburgh residents overwhelmingly rejected the introduction of a congestion charge – with more than 74 per cent of people refusing to back the idea.

READ MORE: 2005 congestion charge plan has nothing on this road revolution

This led to the then council leader Donald Anderson stating the idea “is now dead and buried for Edinburgh”.

But council transport official Will Garrett suggested the city would consider a congestion charge if other moves it was planning to cut down on air pollution did not prove to be effective.

READ MORE: Edinburgh roads at ‘breaking point’ over potholes

He said: “Demand management is about trying to address demand with a stick rather than a carrot. These are ideas, they are proposals that have come forward through the engagement that we have had.

“There are ones that have come through with a significant level of support from people.”

Mr Garrett was pressed by Conservative councillor Scott Douglas as to whether a congestion charge would be considered if not enough people moved from car travel to public transport.

Mr Garrett added: “If we get the level of modal shift that we are looking for, we may well not have to use these. At this stage I cannot tell you, hand on heart, whether we will or we will not use these.

“They are all measures that are being used elsewhere successfully so we need to give them serious consideration.”

Conservative transport and environment spokesman Nick Cook called for the idea to be binned, along with the workplace parking levy proposals.

The councillor said: “We recall the discussions that this council has had in the last 10 or 15 years and the local referendum on that issue of congestion charges – let’s be clear and call it what it is.

“There was a local poll on that matter and, as far as I’m concerned, the result of that referendum, like other referendums, should be respected. It should be completely ruled out.”

But transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said: “Our vision for Edinburgh is to create a cleaner, safer and inclusive transport system and I’m delighted that, under the city mobility plan, we will be able to move forward a range of measures to achieve this.”