By Jim McNulty [UKFORUM] email@example.com
Having been following Ray Shields' updates on the controversial Skye Bridge and the non payment of the toll, I decided to go and have a look at the situation this weekend.
We drove up to the bridge, arriving about half an hour before the planned protest. There was a good number of people already there, and they were congregated around the bridge office where they were chatting to the bridge staff and the police. There was a Sergeant and 8 Constables there, which has to be a record police attendance in Kyle. Later they were joined by 3 traffic cars (another record in one place!)
A member of the campaign came round to us and several other onlookers, explaining what was about to happen, and giving us a general perspective of the bridge problem. Everything was very good natured and organised. There were TV crews in attendance from Grampian TV, BBC and some others.
Just after 1 pm we could see the convoy approaching the other side of the bridge and it crossed over, led by a kilted campaigner carrying the Saltire. The cars were stopped at the barrier, asked to pay the toll, and duly refused. The police then spoke to them, explained that non payment would mean them being charged. The officer then asked them to park in a single file, two cars at a time, where other officers took the driver's details. All done in very good humour, but very effective as it caused considerable hold up on the bridge, and roused much interest from the tourists.
My conclusions are that the Skye opponents of the toll have a definite voice and will not easily fade away; that there is no good reason why the police should be involved in prosecuting people for crossing a private road without payment; and that the English couple who asked "What does SNP stand for?" were a great illustration of the fact that all this is too far from Westminster for anyone there to be concerned about it.
Well worth the 600 mile journey to breath the clean air of the Highlands. I spent 15 minutes or so standing at Achnasheen looking out onto the mountains, and realised that it is too long since I went there to reflect upon the tranquility which is such a contrast to some parts of the UK.
Copyright © Ray Shields, 1996.
Most recent revision, 15 February 1996.