Time to rethink our city centre congestion charge traffic policy - Vladimir McTavish

I care about the future of the planet, even though, as a sixty-something Glaswegian, it really is none of my business. Statistically, I died around five years ago.
Many cities are introducing a daily charge to drive in the centreMany cities are introducing a daily charge to drive in the centre
Many cities are introducing a daily charge to drive in the centre

On Thursday, BBC News announced that 2022 had been the hottest year on record for all four nations of the UK. On the same day, this newspaper reported that Edinburgh is among the worst ten British cities for carbon dioxide emissions. What both of these stories are saying loud and clear is that we need to get serious about traffic volumes.

There really is no excuse for the amount of cars driving in central Edinburgh, Given that we have one of the best and most efficient bus services of any city in the world. Lothian Buses are the envy of visitors from around the globe And yet, citizens of the capital still drive their cars into the city centre. I struggle to understand why anyone would want or need to do so.

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But it’s not just private cars. During Hogmanay, as I waited for my bus in the teeming rain, I lost count of the number of near-empty open-topped tour buses that were clogging up the streets. It surely cannot make sense for the council to approve so many licences to so any different operators all effectively offering the same service. OK, I understand that we are a tourist destination but is there any real need or demand for a tour bus to leave St Andrew Square every second minute?

Several years ago, the city held a referendum on a Congestion Charge. I voted in favour but the majority did not, I think it is time to revisit this vote. OK, I may have a poor record in backing the losing horse in referenda, having supported the congestion charge, put my X next to Yes for independence in 2014 and opposed Brexit two years later.

But, for the sake of our city and also for the health of our planet, should we not have another vote on banning cars from the centre of Edinburgh ? Let’s act now before it’s too late.