The scale of the defeat was a crushing blow to the Labour council, which has spent £8 million developing its plans for the world’s most ambitious congestion-charging scheme, encircling the whole of the Capital. Having insisted that tolls were the only way of tackling congestion in the city, the council now faces having to draw up a completely new strategy.I can't say that I'm surprised, although some are. The news was given to me by a senior, green-oriented gentleman who lives fairly close to the centre of the city. He was shocked by the result and didn't seem to understand why the people had voted "the wrong way". But a more junior lady in the same organisation confessed quietly to me that she had voted "No". You see, like most people in Edinburgh, she doesn't live in the world-famous city centre but out in the suburbs where use of a car is more of a necessity than a luxury.
I have no problem with improving public transport - preferably privately operated. For a start, I wonder why we don't reintroduce bus conductors, at least on buses in the city centre. Every evening one sees convoys of buses at each stop slowly waiting their turn to load and unload while the leading driver collects the fares. And who can doubt that we'll still be debating the reopening of the south suburban railway line to passengers in fifty years time? But this needs road tolls to cover the costs, we'll be told. Maybe, maybe not. But a properly thought out plan will have to be sold to the population as a whole including the majority who live outside the city centre. The council's plan failed because it was inadequately thought out and it didn't answer the justifiable concerns of city centre small businesses and suburban residents. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if many voters were swayed by the Yes campaign's widespread use of tax-financed illegal posters on virtually every main-road lamppost.