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Gothenburg residents demand say on road tolls

Gothenburg residents were out on force on Saturday to demonstrate in favour of a referendum on the controversial road congestion charge which was introduced on January 1st.

Gothenburg residents demand say on road tolls

Around a thousand people gathered on Götaplatsen in central Gothenburg to demand a say on the charge which has been credited with cutting traffic by 23 percent.

“Now in 2013, there is finally a chance for us Gothenburg residents to vote on the congestion charge,” said Gun Fernqvist from the Swedish Automobile Association (Motormännens Riksförbund).

The system was introduced on New Year’s Day with motorists paying between 8 and 18 kronor ($2.80) depending on the time of day, with a maximum daily charge per vehicle set at 60 kronor.

According to figures published two weeks after the system had been in place, one in five drivers in the city had elected to leave their cars at home during peak hours.

Furthermore off-peak traffic had declined by 6 percent according to the figures from the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket).

But despite the reduction in traffic, the congestion charge has remained controversial with reports of some motorists seeking to avoid the charge by diverting to smaller roads.

When a similar system was introduced in Stockholm in 2006, residents were given the chance to vote and the organizers of Saturday’s demonstration argued that Gothenburg should be given the same chance.

“The people’s initiative has to be taken seriously. Now democracy has been put to the test,” Maria Berjaoui, the founder of a Facebook group on the issue, said.

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark should not be brought back

Sweden's government on Tuesday announced plans to bring back ID checks on Sweden's borders. Niels Paarup-Petersen, a Malmö MP, has launched a campaign to stop them.

OPINION: ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark should not be brought back

Bringing in ID-checks is illegal, ineffective, and devastating for the labour market in the Öresund region. That the government, despite all this, is pushing ahead with them anyway is almost impossible to understand. 

Once again, the government’s first response to a crisis is to bring back the ID-checks that tear our region in two.

Once again, they’re doing this without giving either the regional government or those operating the transport services a chance to give their input.

Once again, the idea is that Skåne and the Öresund Region should pay the price for solving Sweden’s challenges.

Once again, commuters will have to wait for half an hour at Kastrup. Once again the transport system in Skåne will be wrecked. 

READ ALSO: Sweden to bring back border controls to control Ukraine arrivals

It’s bloody awful, to be frank.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it is illegal to put the responsibility on transport operators across a Schengen border. The Office of the Chancellor of Justice has come to the same conclusions.

Ukrainians have the right to enter the country, which means that they will not be stopped by the ID controls. If you want to have a better understanding of who is crossing the border, there are still ‘temporary’ border controls in place after six years.

Making the transport operator responsible for ID controls work when applied to ferries and flights, where there is only one place where you can get on or off. When you have continuous traffic, such as with trains or cars, it has a devastating effect on the traffic and on all of the people using them.  

ID checks are completely illegal, unnecessary, and irrational.

Region Skåne, the municipalities in Skåne, and all of my colleagues from Skåne in the national parliament must now all put their feet down. 

ID checks on the Öresund Bridge should not be brought back! 

Niels Paarup-Petersen is an MP representing Malmö for the Centre Party. He was born and grew up in Denmark and has worked for the Öresund Bridge Consortium.

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