Report demands better public services

Edinburgh's leaders must prioritise public transport improvements to prevent the proposed congestion charge damaging city centre retail trade, an independent study insisted this week.

The report, commissioned by Edinburgh City Centre Management (ECCM), examined the possible impact of congestion charging on city retailers.

It predicts that if the £2 toll proceeds in 2006 and no further transport measures are introduced, city centre retail spending will fall by four per cent - a retail loss of £38 million a year. The study emphasises that public transport should be improved before the toll is introduced.

Edinburgh City Council has pledged better bus services and park-and-ride sites by 2006. Further improvements that depend on revenue generated by the charge, including a tram service, will be operational by 2009. If these plans go ahead, the study agrees that a temporary fall in retail spending should be reversed.

ECCM chief executive Gordon Reid said: "This report makes it clear that congestion charging is a challenge for retailers but it offers evidence that any negative impact can be overcome."

Council leader Donald Anderson added: "It shows that, with public transport improvements, the fortunes of the city centre should not be dented."

Proposed Congestion Charge Scheme for Edinburgh can be viewed via

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