What would benefit the Taxpayer by £25 Million?
SKAT recognises the politics of the real world. How can we all save money by removing the tolls on the Skye Bridge?
SKAT Vice-Convener Ron Shapland has made a close study of the Skye Bridge Concession and has become an expert on the subject. This week leaflets outlining his financial case for removal of the toll are being sent out to all M.S.P.s. Central to his financial case is the willingness of the Scottish Executive to utilise the changed financial and political circumstances. Financially, they could take advantage of the significant reduction in interest rates in the UK and Europe thus achieving reduced loan interest payments. Politically, the issue is now within the remit of the new Scottish Parliament under Sarah Boyack, Minister for Transport & the Environment. We now have significant Conservative opinion that the tolls issue should be resolved. The SNP has abolition of tolls on the Skye Bridge as one of their principle policies. Ron recognises the assistance of both the Westminster Labour and the Holyrood Labour/Liberal Democrat Coalition: 'The Government has kindly agreed to help the fragile communities carry the burden of the toll costs by providing £600,00 per annum subsidising bulk ticket prices, while the new proposal of freezing the tolls at 1999 prices will mean on average Government input of £750,000. (Per annum)"
What Ron asks the Scottish Executive to do is to place the new factors into the equation and work it out:
Present cost of scheme to toll payers + political willingness to resolve the issue - low financial interest rates - existing subsidies - removal of administration and collection charges = removal of tolls. Heres how the equation works out:
£3.25m + willingness - £l.lm - £l.3m - £0.83m = approx.. 0
With the removal of the toll from the Skye bridge would come the benefits to the island communities of increased tourism and business; new jobs with resulting lower unemployment costs and increased revenue raised for the exchequer from increased personal incomes and business profits. The Island Location Factor alone would save the taxpayer a further £lm each year. Multiply this £2m saving over the remaining concession period and you have a £25m saving to the taxpayer
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 1999.
Most recent revision, 27 August 1999