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The 2004 Annual Conference and Dinner - Tuesday 9 November 2004

John Yellowlees, Scottish Region Chairmand

John Yellowlees, Scottish Region Chairman opening the 2004 Annual Conference

© John G. Fender 2004

The 2004 Annual Conference and Dinner was held in Glasgow on the 9 November at the Hilton hotel. This year's theme was "No change, no charge: Is congestion Charging Right for Scotland?"

A large audience heard from a variety of speakers on congestion charging with the keynote address by Malcolm Murray-Clark, Director for Congestion Charging, Transport for London who detailed the introduction and first year's operation of the London Congestion Charging Scheme.

In his address he highlighted the positive results so far achieved, including the reduction of both traffic and pollutants within the zone and the increase in public transport provision. He outlined the way different methods that can be used to pay the charge and looked at how the scheme is enforced, before briefly looking at the future expansion of the scheme and the improvements in technology that are planned to be introduced.

The next speaker, Andy Godfrey, Public Policy Manager (Local & Regional Government) Boots plc, looked at the impact on the retail sector of such congestion charging schemes. After looking at the effects the London scheme has had on Boot's business within the area, he then surveyed the effects of other schemes such as that in Durham and the proposals for Bristol and Edinburgh. He was followed by Stuart Turnbull, Divisional Director and Pavla Urbankova, both of Jacobs Babtie who looked at the acceptance of such schemes around Europe. Congestion charging is becoming more accepted in Europe, but different cities have introduced different methods of charging and this presentation compared a number of them.

The afternoon session began with Rodney Mortimer, Manager of WESTRANS, looking at Demand Management in the West of Scotland. He looked at the position of Glasgow and considered whether a congestion charging scheme would be suitable. He outlined a number of reasons that made the introduction of a similar scheme to that in London difficult, before looking at the public transport provision in the area. He pointed out that Glasgow City Council, in partnership with other councils and SPT were introducing improvements for public transport across the city and that there was currently a wide ranging programme of introducing bus priority measures across the city with the introduction of the Quality Bus Corridors. Additionally, SPT was building the new railway line to Larkhall and was providing additional park and ride facilities throughout its area.

Neil Greig, Head of Policy for the AA Motoring Trust, provided a contrasting viewpoint by looking at congestion charging from the motorist's viewpoint. He pointed out that the UK has the smallest motorway network per head of population in Europe and stated that planners do not recognise the motorist needs. He said that motorists were being unfairly taxed as much of the revenue raised by government from motorists was not spent on the roads. He outlined the objections to congestion charging schemes using examples of the protests held in some European cities and suggested that such schemes did not result in the claimed benefits.

Some of the speakers (L to R) Dr. Bob McLellan, Neil Greig, Rodney Mortimer and Ewan Brown, CBEd

Some of the speakers (L to R) Dr. Bob McLellan, Neil Greig, Rodney Mortimer and Ewan Brown, CBE

© John G. Fender 2004

The final speaker, Dr. Bob McLellan, head of Transport, Fife Council, in his humorous presentation outlined the need to provide facilities for interchange between public and private transport and cited the example of the Ferrytoll Park & Ride scheme, just to the north of the Forth Road bridge. He looked at the likely impact the proposed Edinburgh Congestion Charging scheme would have with relevance to Fife and also looked at the alternative transport facilities available. He ended by briefly looking at possible fast ferry routes between Fife and Edinburgh that would provide and alternative to road or rail travel.

The conference finished with a question and answer session and debate on the various aspects of congestion charging, before Don Nutt summed the event up.

The Annual Dinner was held in the evening and provided an opportunity for members and guests to enjoy a relaxed dinner. One of the highlights was the prize draw, resulting in a generous amount being raised for "Transaid".

Report by John Fender.


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