Congestion charging justified, but only in centre

Gavin Strang MP has said he would support in principle congestion charging for the centre of Edinburgh, but that charging people to cross the outer city boundary would not be the best way forward.

Gavin Strang has written to Councillor Andrew Burns, City of Edinburgh Council Executive Member for Transport, in response to the Council’s consultation on congestion charging which closes today.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Gavin Strang MP said today:

‘I welcome the City of Edinburgh Council’s consultation on congestion charging, and support the Council’s determination to tackle our congestion problems and raise money for better public transport.

‘There are areas in Edinburgh that are blighted by congestion and where vehicle fumes are causing real public health issues.

‘The City of Edinburgh Council’s proposal to introduce a charge for driving into the city centre will help reduce future congestion and raise millions of pounds for public transport improvements, including a new tram network serving the North and West areas of the city.

‘However, I would be concerned about the impact of an outer-boundary charge on communities on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

‘Congestion is not generally a problem on the eastern outskirts of Edinburgh. Yet there are a large number of people who need to cross the outer area boundary frequently on local journeys – on business, to shops and to local services.

‘People from Musselburgh, Tranent, Prestonpans and elsewhere often need to cross the outer boundary in the course of their daily business. Likewise, people from areas like Portobello and Craigmillar often need to pop over the boundary and then return. The boundary between the communities of Joppa, Portobello, Newcraighall and Craigmillar in Edinburgh and Musselburgh in East Lothian has no natural or commercial basis. It is a local government boundary.

‘Charging people for using their streets can be justified where it will address a serious congestion problem and provide local public transport improvements.

‘I would support the Council in principle introducing a charge for driving into the city centre. It should reduce congestion, and the Council estimates that it will raise £900 million over 15 years for public transport improvements. But I am not persuaded that the time has come for congestion charging at the outskirts of the city.’

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Notes for Editors

  • Edinburgh City Council’s consultation proposes to charge drivers £2 per day between 7am-7pm on weekdays to enter the city, or to enter the central area of the city. In the option with the outer boundary charge, drivers who have paid to enter the broad city area would not have to pay again to enter the central area. Disabled people, buses, emergency vehicles, motorcyclists and moped riders will not be charged.