Motorists coming into Glasgow from affluent suburbs that were once part of the city could be required to pay a congestion charge under possible plans by Scotland's largest local authority.

The council's depute leader Ricky Bell said discussions had taken place with the Scottish Government about the measure, which reduced traffic congestion by 30% in London and generated £591.7 million in the first three years for 'greener' transport.

Our sister title The Herald reports he said it was not realistic to expect boundaries would be redrawn but suggested it was only fair that people who drive in and use services "free gratis" should contribute to the running of the city while it was becoming even harder to balance the books.

It is 20 years since London introduced a congestion charge to reduce the number of private vehicles entering the city and a pre-cursor to its low emissions zone, which has been expanded to cover all of its boroughs.

In the first year, there was a 37% increase in the number of passengers entering the congestion charging zone by bus during charging hours.

By 2006, it had reduced congestion in central London by 26% from its 2002 levels.

A huge amount of people come into the city from the suburbs and use our services

The charging period runs from 7am to 6pm and the standard charge is currently £15 with buses, taxis, electric vehicles and certain drivers exempt.

Glasgow's Low Emission Zone (LEZ) came into force in the city centre on June 1 banning older, more polluting cars outright in a model that is being copied in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Glasgow Times:

"There's been a lot of talk about a tourism tax and we need to think about that [and whether] our tourism economy is strong enough?" said the depute leader.

"Is that something you would do and then ring-fence the money so that it's spent specifically on the city centre to make [it] look better.

"I don't buy the argument that says that puts people off going. If you are going to spend that kind of money on a holiday abroad, a few pounds here and there...

"The other one that is a real biggie for us but we are still in the very early stages is [if] should Glasgow have a congestion charge?

"We have a huge amount of people who come into the city because they live in the suburbs and use our services.

"They are paying all their council tax to other councils and that's great but they are not paying anything for the services they use here.

"Those are the type of discussions we are having with the Scottish Government."

He said it was his belief that the current economic crisis had shown that having 32 local authorities was "not sustainable".

"I would be the first person to support Glasgow being a proper city region council," said Councillor Bell.

"The unfairness is the artificial boundaries that were created to make local government more attractive to one party.

"I don't think we are in a space where we can convince the government to change the boundary.

"If we can't get that then can we get a congestion charge that would say to people who live outwith Glasgow but come in all the time 'you have to contribute to all the services that Glasgow provides that at this time you get free gratis.'"

The Glasgow-born councillor said he felt it keenly when people criticised the appearance of the city.

Glasgow Times:

He told our sister title The Herald: "I've lived in my current house for 27 years and I'll go out of it in a box.

"I am hugely passionate about Glasgow. I think this is the best city in the world. I keep saying to Humza Yousaf, this should be the capital city of an independent Scotland.

"Criticise the administration all you like, that's politics but don't criticise the city."

Councillor Jon Molyneux, finance lead for the Green councillor group, said an amendment by the party committing the council to set up a cross-party working group on local revenue raising was passed on Thursday.

He said: "For decades congestion charging, parking levies, low emission zones and other tools have been used around the world to reduce emissions, cut congestion, and raise funds for vital services like public transport.

"It’s absolutely right that we look at successes elsewhere and learn how we can use these tools to make our cities better, healthier places to live.”

Hisashi Kuboyama, Glasgow representative of the Federation of Small Businesses said a "thorough impact assessment" would be required to ensure businesses were not adversely affected by a congestion charge.

He said: “Scotland’s local authorities are under significant financial pressures, and we understand they need to look at every possible measure to generate extra revenues.

"If introduced, it could potentially have a negative impact on footfall and trade in the city centre, and therefore on small businesses. So they need to be consulted about it."

Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said the problem with policies aimed at discouraging car use was that there was "no trust" between drivers and local councils about how the revenue would be spent.

He said: "Parking charges are ring-fenced for transport but I can’t think of a single Glasgow council initiative you can point to and say that drivers' money was used to benefit drivers.

"They can’t even fix the potholes or pick up litter in the city centre let alone run a high-tech road charging system."

Our sister title The Herald revealed earlier this week that Glasgow's council is also looking at a possible charging policy "for non-Glaswegians" for the city's museums and galleries, the majority of which are currently free.