SCOTTISH NEWS: Councils threaten to challenge tolls

Three local authorities are considering mounting a legal challenge to Edinburgh's plans for road charges.

Fife, Midlothian and West Lothian Councils are angry that their residents will have to pay a £2 toll to enter the city if the scheme goes ahead, while motorists living within the city limits but outside the charging cordon will not. The councils point out that Danderhall in Midlothian is closer to Edinburgh city centre than areas such as South Queensferry, which is within the city council boundary.

Midlothian Council leader Adam Montgomery said: "These proposals will have a disproportionate effect on this area and we need to ensure that everyone understands the implications. This is about the city wanting to impose congestion charging without having fully considered the effects that it will have on the other communities.

"The decision to exempt Edinburgh residents living outside the outer cordon from paying to cross it is the final illustration of how divisive and unfair these proposals are. This is unacceptable if the scheme is supposed to be about reducing congestion.

"We have Edinburgh residents free to move between the cordons without charge, but if someone in Danderhall wants to travel to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, they will face a £2 charge." Montgomery added that a legal challenge to the toll is "a strong possibility".

Fife Council, whose residents already pay to cross the Forth Road Bridge, has launched a campaign under the slogan: "Let Edinburgh know what you think."

Environment and development spokesman Mike Rumney said: "Residents in Fife will lose because they'll have to pay the charge, plus there is not the same public transport network as in Edinburgh. Add on the Forth Road Bridge toll and they're three times losers."

Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, which is devising the charging scheme, has promised that 45 per cent of the £900 million expected to be raised over 20 years will be spent on public transport outside the capital.

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