The Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill is currently the only Bill for consideration in The Scottish Parliament. The Bill was introduced by John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth and it is the first Bill to be tabled by the new SNP Government and fulfils one of its manifesto pledges.
The Bill seeks to abolish toll charges on the Forth Road Bridge and the Tay Road Bridge which, due to the removal of the toll from the Skye Bridge, are now the only remaining tolled bridges in Scotland. Supporters of the Bill believe it is unfair that the only tolled bridges remaining are both accessing Fife and view this as unjust to people living in the communities of Fife, Tayside and the Lothians.
Bridge tolls have proved to be a controversial issue in Scotland in the past with a long running campaign being mounted against the Skye Bridge tolls. The Skye Bridge tolls were part of the first ever PFI deal and were successfully scraped only after the then Scottish Executive bought the bridge from its private owners at a cost of £27 million.
As neither the Forth or Tay bridges are privately owned there would be no need for such a payment. However the Government would need to fund one off redundancy payments for toll collecting staff, as well as capital grants for major repair and refurbishment work. Although concerns have been raised surrounding congestion in Edinburgh and on the bridges themselves, the Bill has been supported by much of the local business community and all parties in the Parliament. Although, the support has come at a cost to the SNP, who have had to agree to an amendment not to delay or cancel major transport projects in Edinburgh.