Chief Constable WA Robertson of the Northern Constabulary has accepted advice from the Crown Office that "the tolls are being legally collected". He has stated in a letter to Charles Kennedy MP that on this basis he has instructed his officers to back the Concessionaire (Bank of America) in refusing passage to members of the public challenging the regime by withholding payment. This might explain why his officers have refused to take the hundreds of complaints made by the public both about the illegality of the tolls and the conduct of his officers when this matter is raised.
Neither matter is acknowledged in the 1997 report on the Northern Constabulary. It nicely whites out any reference to the tolls. In fact only one case of oppressive conduct or harassment by police is admitted in a three year period and that is, we believe, unrelated to the Skye Bridge. The Chief Constable's handling of Skye bridge civil dispute is heavily biased and fundamentally dishonest. Sadly, it has even led to Police perjury by certain zealots in Dingwall Sheriff Court. The public hand raised in objection has been willfully construed as the public hand raised in attack. The Chief Constable has clearly conspired with others to prosecute one elected representative for 'obstruction'.
It is clear from contact with officers on the ground that the policy comes from above and the Police are being employed in the vast majority of cases reluctantly, as a weapon of ideological and political control. As we approach the return of some form of Parliament to Scotland, we, as a civil society, must guard against this form of politics.So, given that everybody in Scotland may be victims of colonial control by the Treasury in London, let us call a truce with our Northern Constabulary as a whole and start again.
Lest historians think that there was no public dissent, for the record let us write to the Chief Constable and make a formal complaint about our suspicions. Perhaps we think that the tolls are being collected on the A87 by persons not in possession of a lawful assignation of statutory powers. Perhaps we believe that the toll period has not been lawfully commenced by a statutory declaration. Perhaps we think the collectors should be a registered company. Perhaps we think that they should be filling in tax returns like everybody else. Since they claim to have a private service contract perhaps they should be VAT registered.
After all, Chief Constable, collecting the tolls without lawful authority is a criminal act, according to Section 37(4) of the New Roads and Streets Works Act 1991.
If the protesters can find all the flaws that they have done, what could the professionals uncover? After all we pay the police to work for us, not the Bank of America.
You may write your own letters to Mr. Robertson at:Chief Constable Headquarters, Northern Constabulary Old Perth Road INVERNESS IV2 3SY Scotland UK
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 1998.
Most recent revision, 16 September 1998