SKAT Delight at Parliamentary Meeting

SKAT Press Release

The Scottish Parliament will this week be asked to accede to the wishes of Northern Councils including Highland, Western Isles and Orkney in fully examining the Skye bridge by way of an Independent Inquiry.

Anti-tolls group SKAT heard at their weekend meeting in Portree that a cross-section of MSPs has agreed to meet with a delegation from the long-established campaigning organisation in Edinburgh on Wednesday. SKAT convener and Highland Councillor for Portree, Drew Millar, said, "Obviously we are delighted that we as a body representing a diversity of Skye's interests we have been granted this early opportunity to meet with members of Scotland's new Parliament. The response from the parties has been very helpful so far and we detect a willingness to hear us out on the serious effects of the high bridge tolls on Skye's economy."

Mr Millar added that five SKAT representatives would each make prepared statements on different aspects of the controversial PFI project. He said that this would include aspects of the early contractual history of the project as well as input gathered from Island business leaders on the on-going deleterious effects of the tolls on the local economy. The delegation has high hopes of a separate meeting on Wednesday with Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace whose Lib-Dem Party had campaigned for both Westminster and Holyrood on a platform which included the removal of tolls.

In the four years since the bridge opened almost 500 cases emanating from non-payment of the tolls have come before Scotland's courts, and while a small number of these are still subject to appeals' procedures SKAT continues its arguments that a gross injustice was visited on islanders who launched a peaceful civil and judicial protest against the tolls' regime.

Mr Millar said that SKAT's weekly meetings were still attracting upwards of one hundred activists and that the Scottish Parliament should come to recognise that here is a persistent niggle that will not go away. "Wednesday's meeting with the MSPs in Edinburgh gives an ideal opportunity for Scotland's parliamentarians to push a little bit further at this door which SKAT has kept open for four years and finally to eradicate an awful blight which after all is not of their making."

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Copyright Ray Shields, 1999.

Most recent revision, 21 June 1999