SKAT held its Annual General Meeting on 1st
Feb.. 2003. Present were Vice-Chairman and
Minute Secretary, Milly Simonini, Secretary
As Vice-Chairman, Milly Simonini gave a review of SKAT's activities during 2002. Early in the year, Milly had registered strong complaints on behalf of SKAT about the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee's failure to publicise their inquiry into the cost-effectiveness of PFI/PPPs. We had achieved an extension to the closing date for submissions and we presented our case to the Committee. However, the Committee had excluded the Skye Bridge from consideration because it was "unique". We then complained to the Parliament's Procedures Committee on the lack of publicity for the inquiry. Our "valid point" was accepted and they promised to take it into their considerations. In the spring, Napier University's survey, commissioned by Highland Council, into the economic impact of the tolls on Skye vindicated everything that SKAT had been arguing for the last 3 years.
However, the Scottish Executive claimed the figures used for the survey were out of date and Milly had written to Highland Council Convenor, David Green, asking how Highland Council would now proceed. Mr. Green would look into this and further correspondence was awaited. The new Freedom of Information Act proved, ultimately, to serve no useful purpose for SKAT since the Skye Bridge/Bank of America deal was still protected by Commercial Confidentiality. In November, the Parliamentary Finance Committee Chairman, invited Milly to attend one of its consultation meetings in Portree. Milly gave the Committee figures relating to the failure of the Skye Bridge as a potential asset to the community, showing negative effects with decreasing vehicle nos. and visitor nos., the £2 million of tax payers' money spent on subsidising the tolls when the toll concession could be bought out for much less, and that toll removal would bring an extra £5 million into the island economy.
The MSPs present were notably surprised by this information but Peter Peacock, Deputy Finance Minister said later he was unable to comment on any of these figures and simply talked about 2 hour queues at the old ferry and the concessionary tickets for frequent users. SKAT had also applied to become a partner in the Scottish Civic Forum and hoped to use this opportunity to further SKAT's arguments. Milly had also written to Lewis Macdonald, Deputy Transport Minister, asking several questions about the payment by the Government of VAT on the tolls. The Vice-Convenor closed by saying that SKAT would be closely watching the various political parties on the issue of removal of the tolls. SKAT had certainly provided plenty of hard information to justify buying out the concession and allowing Skye to get back onto a level playing field in the tourist industry comparable with other Highlands and Islands areas.
TREASURER'S REPORT Dorothy Pearce presented the balance sheet for the year to 31st Dec. 2002. This showed a balance of £293.62 in hand. Income came only from donations but this showed that there was still strong support for SKAT and the cause. She appealed for suggestions for further fund-raising.
The meeting then
proceeded to the election of Office Bearers for the coming year and the following were
The meeting then proceeded to the election of Office Bearers for the coming year and the following were elected:-
|Chairman||Dr. Julian Toms||Andy Anderson||Dorothy Pearce||Unanimous|
|Vice-Chair||Milly Simonini||Ian Willoughby||Maggie Black||Unanimous|
|Secretary||Andy Anderson||Milly Simonini||Adam Gilmour||Unanimous|
|Treasurer||Dorothy Pearce||Milly Simonini||Ian Willoughby||Unanimous|
As the meeting was not quorate, the election of these Office Bearers would require to be ratified at the next fully quorate meeting.
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 2003.
Most recent revision, 04 June 2003