By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Conservatives have said the Low Emission Zone which came into force in Glasgow today puts jobs at risk and could create a “low economy zone”.
At First Minister’s Questions, Douglas Ross raised the concerns of businesses, charities and workers who are disappointed by the SNP’s delivery of the LEZ scheme.
He said the SNP should have delayed the scheme for a year instead of charging ahead with it against the views of drivers and people across Glasgow and elsewhere.
The LEZ plans will force countless drivers to avoid Glasgow city centre or face hefty fines of up to £480.
Douglas Ross raised the example of Homeless Project Scotland, a charity which helps to feed 300 people every day, who were denied an ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption to the LEZ.
Other warnings came from businesses raising concerns that the Glasgow LEZ will risk jobs and damage the economy.
Steven Grant of Unite Glasgow taxi drivers has said: “This damaging and punitive plan is going to be devastating for our trade, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Local business owner William Paton, who runs a garage within the restricted zone, said: “It just feels like it’s been poorly thought out and we’re left in a horrible position because of it.”
Stuart Patrick, CEO of Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, said: “While we have supported the aims of the LEZ, the Chamber does not support using it as a political measure to drive all private cars from the city centre.”
Just this morning, Donald MacLeod of Night Time Industries Association, said: “Actually, what we’ve got here is a low economy zone getting created.”
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “The Low Emission Zone will prevent drivers from entering the city centre under threat of hefty fines of up to £480.
“As usual with the SNP, the problem with this policy is the delivery. Organisations are warning that the implementation has been poor.
“Humza Yousaf must realise the scheme is flawed when outstanding charities are denied exemptions for exceptional circumstances.
“The SNP leader has nothing positive to say to all those businesses and workers who are concerned this scheme is going to put jobs at risk.
“The LEZ is the latest anti-driver policy from the SNP that looks like a shambles in the making.
“They’ve cut investment in roads, they’re not tackling Scotland’s pothole problem, they support a car park tax, they’re hiking the cost of driving.
“The LEZ is hurting charities’ ability to function, it is risking jobs and business leaders think it’s going to create a low economy zone.
“The SNP should have delayed this scheme for a year and properly listened to the concerns of charities, businesses and workers.”