At 11.30am the results of a postal ballot will be revealed in Edinburgh. 290 000 residents were asked whether they wanted to see a £2 charge for motorists to enter the city centre. 60 percent have voted, most are believed to have said 'No' to "another sneaky new Labour tax." In London, where c-charging has been an overwhelming success at reducing motorised traffic, the scheme was not put to a public vote but pushed through by a politician with balls.

Edinburgh residents expected to vote ‘No’ to c-charging

A campaign group opposed to congestion charging for Edinburgh produced a poster saying ‘You like this shop? Want it to be here in 2 years time?’

This is a reference to what No-Congestion-Charge claims is a proven drop in business for retailers in congestion charge zones.

"The council predict a drop of 4 percent in sales due to congestion charging. In London there was a 12 percent drop. That would make this shop and many others not worth opening."

A pro c-charging group – Get Edinburgh Moving – said: "The CBI estimates that congestion costs the UK economy £20 billion a year. Meanwhile, pollution from transport accounts for nearly a quarter of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions and is the fastest growing cause of atmospheric pollution. Not only does this contribute to climate change, it is a serious cause of ill health. Around 240 people a year in Edinburgh are killed by car pollution."

Close to the closing on the poll, nine senior public health specialists wrote an open letter to Edinburgh residents, claiming the £2 charge for motorists would be good for health.

"We find that the objections [to c-charging] fail to take into account the individual and community health benefits possible from restraint of private motor traffic," wrote the medicos.

"By decreasing motor traffic and investing in improved pedestrian and cycling facilities, the proposals should significantly increase levels of physical activity through everyday walking and cycling. This would help to address the health problems caused by our inactive lifestyles in Scotland: two thirds of Scots fail to achieve even the minimum levels of physical activity necessary for health and are therefore at higher risk of many serious health conditions, including coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Our national obesity crisis is fuelled in part by lack of physical activity.

"The evidence from London’s experience of congestion charging points to a positive effect on levels of cycling (walking has not yet been measured). The Department for Transport gives provisional estimates of a 30% increase in cycle traffic and a 50-60% shift from cars to public transport, which normally includes walking at each end of the journey.

"Additional health benefits of a successful congestion charging programme would include a reduction in air pollution and associated hospital admissions for respiratory and heart disease, decreased noise, and fewer traffic collisions and casualties; in London there has been a decrease in the number of cyclist and pedestrian casualties. This adds up to a significant public health programme.

"The revenue raised by the congestion charge would be used to make real city-wide improvements to the cycling, walking and public transport systems. This could lead to the achievement of one of the great targets of public health – more people more active more often – being realised.

The signatories to this letter were:

Raj Bhopal, Bruce and John Usher Professor of Public Health, University of Edinburgh

Phil Hanlon, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow

Liz Irvine, Chair, UK Public Health Association Scotland

Kate Fearnley, Active Travel Programme Manager, Sustrans

Dr Malcolm McWhirter, Convenor U.K Faculty of Public Health, Scotland

Nanette Mutrie, Professor of Exercise and Sport Psychology, Strathclyde University

Lorna Renwick, Health Promotion Advisor, Cycling Scotland

Helen Tyrrell, MPH (Master in Public Health)

Helen Zealley, formerly Director of Public Health, Lothian Health


Walking and cycling success stories, December 2004, Department for Transport…/dft_sust


Central London Congestion Charging Scheme Impacts Monitoring Summary Review: January 2005…/impacts-monitoring-report-january-2005.pdf



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