On Saturday, 31st January, 2004, SKAT held its 8th Annual General Meeting. The group's Chairman, Dr. Julian Toms, was unable to be present but Secretary, Andy Anderson, read to the meeting a report sent in by Dr. Toms. In it, Dr. Toms said that in view of the Scottish Executive's stated intention to get rid of the "discredited toll regime", the theme for much of the year had been 'waiting patiently'. There had been mention of the year 2007 but he felt sure that the people of Skye would not wait that long and unless there was some progress this year SKAT would resume its demonstrations and again put pressure on the politicians. He, however, acknowledged the support of MSP, John Farquhar Munro and Lib-Dem leader, Charles Kennedy.
Dr. Toms noted the successful leafleting at the Bridge in September when SKAT members distributed contact information and encouraged Bridge users who were unhappy about the tolls to e-mail Scottish Transport Minister, Nicol Stephen, or Charles Kennedy, a tactic we may again use if necessary.
The Chairman recalled that, during the year, SKAT had become a group member of Scottish Civic Forum and two of our members, Ian & Colina Willoughby, had made a very successful presentation to the Forum on behalf of SKAT. Another of our members, Dennis Briggs had decided to take advantage of the long period of free access to the island due to the broken toll barrier. Police finally caught up with Dennis but so far no charges have ensued. The issue of another SKAT NEWS was also a source of encouragement as it had brought in many letters and a surprising amount of donations, giving an indication of the continuing strong support for SKAT which thus remained solvent. Finally, Dr. Toms informed the meeting that Danny and Milly Simonini, who had been active in SKAT since the earliest days, would now not be able to play such a prominent part in SKAT activities due to Danny's declining health. He noted that, although nominally Vice-Chair, Milly had been the "communications headquarters for several years" and that SKAT would miss her contribution to the campaign. He extended the group's best wishes to Danny and Milly for the future. In closing, Dr. Toms hoped that SKAT would soon outlive its purposes but assured everyone that, until then, SKAT would remain alive and well.
Treasurer, Dorothy Pearce, then presented the balance sheet for the year to 31st Dec. 2003. Dorothy noted that SKAT had a fallow period from March to September but, in response to her appeal in SKAT NEWS Winter 2003 issue, she had received many expressions of support as well as donations from old and new friends in Britain, America, Canada and New Zealand. The Balance at 31.12.03. was £502.67 which, Dorothy felt, was adequate for SKAT needs now that we no longer had huge legal bills as in earlier years. There were still some donations to be paid into account and one bill for WHFP advert which would bring the balance to £555.17.
Secretary, Andy Anderson, then commented on SKAT's representation at the Scottish Civic Forum and noted that the SKAT section had been by far the best attended group of the day. Andy also said we had had many e-mails, including interest from journalists and writers, expressing support and interest in the SKAT campaign, most of which had come through Ray Shields' SKAT website, and this might prove helpful in recording the history of what was a historic campaign. Andy then reported he had been in touch with our MSP, John Farquhar Munro, who had suggested there might be a decision on the tolls in the spring of this year as there was a possibility of contingency funds being available for buying out the concession. However, the Scottish Executive had not released any definite information beyond the fact that the German Commerzbank were now involved in the negotiations and Andy suggested that the secrecy surrounding these negotiations could be a positive indication that some activity was taking place as Scot. Exec. were unlikely to reveal details until they had a definite statement to make. Andy felt it unlikely that the Transport Minister, Nicol Stephen, would now back out of the negotiations to remove the tolls since Mr. Stephen was a Lib-Dem MSP and they had made a very firm commitment, as party policy, to toll removal.
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:-
|SKAT News Editor||Jo Scott Moncrieff|
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Most recent revision, 28 February 2004