Kenny MacAskill backs congestion charge for Edinburgh
FORMER city MSP and SNP cabinet minister Kenny MacAskill has called for Edinburgh to introduce a congestion charge - 14 years after the idea was rejected in a referendum.
He said the scheme proposed in 2005, which involved inner and outer cordons, was "bonkers" but claimed a charge focused on the city centre was now "badly needed".
Edinburgh residents voted 75 per cent to 25 per cent against the road toll proposal in February 2005.
But the council's plans currently being drawn up for the city centre include a proposal to "explore the introduction of road user charging to manage demand" as one of a range of possible measures.
Writing in The Scotsman, Mr MacAskill, former Justice Secretary and ex-MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, argued congestion charging was inevitable and it was only a matter of when.
"Edinburgh was riven by this debate more than a decade ago but times move on, traffic's worsened and the need for action on the environment has never been more critical."
He said London's congestion charge - introduced in 2003 - had not solved the city's problems but it had not brought the economy to a grinding halt and without it traffic snarl-ups would be even worse.
He continued: "It's time for Edinburgh to bite the bullet. The previous plan was frankly bonkers with residents of Balerno and Queensferry paying to enter their city.
But a much smaller city centre zone would have been perfectly practical and is now badly needed.
"It needn't stop those who need to commute or affect those who live there. It will though provide a modest revenue to improve public transport alternatives, as well as making the city more enjoyable for residents and visitors alike. The car is not king and the combustion engine needs to be regulated."
He said city street should be enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists as much as motorists.
"Other European cities have been transformed in this manner and it's time ours was too."