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NE residents tell councils where to stick tolls

19 July 2019

Residents of Tyneside have given a resounding thumbs down to road charging plans designed to ensure the area complies with EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide. 

More than 20,000 people responded to the consultation on the options of city centre bridge tolls, a charging clean air zone, and a low emission zone. The consultation was run by Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils.

The councils this week published a summary of the responses. This says the tolls and charging CAZ were “viewed as a potentially discriminatory and financially wounding stealth tax, targeting those on the lowest incomes with non-compliant vehicles, making unavoidable journeys to work”.

Opposition was “couched in the strongest of language and sentiment”. “These comments essentially reflect the vocal, driving, dissenting majority.

“The potential impact on the vitality of city centre business was also a significant concern – with the business community and their customers expressing real apprehension that the proposals would deflect and depress trade.” 

A Newcastle City Council spokeswoman told LTT that further analysis was now underway, taking into account the consultation feedback.

The Government has instructed the councils to submit analysis for how the area can comply with the annual mean legal limit value for NO2 by 8 August. The councils must “confirm which of the modelled options the authorities will take forward to statutory consultation”. A full business case must be submitted to environment secretary by 12 November. 

The Newcastle spokeswoman said the three councils would take their final decisions on the preferred option in October.

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