Goods vehicles entering Durham city centre will have to pay £2 from today as the county council becomes the first in the UK to implement a congestion charging scheme.

The Freight Transport Association’s regional policy manager, Jonathan James, told the BBC: “Although we understand the objective of the council, by charging goods vehicles for entry they are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

"This charge will not change the need for goods to be delivered for shoppers to buy, so why charge it?

“There appear to be exemptions for the very people causing congestion but not for the goods vehicles that actually need to be there.”

The £2 charge will cover all vehicles using the city and cathedral square between 10.00am and 4.00pm Monday to Saturday. A ticket machine is linked to an automatic bollard in the carriageway, which will lower on payment. And the system is monitored by security cameras.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s capital Edinburgh is also considering levying a £2 car charge as part of its £1.5bn proposal to overhaul the city’s transport system.