Skye Bridge Tolling- a permanent feature of island life?

SKAT Chairman Ron Shapland is enlisting the help of the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Parties to try to get some answers from the Scottish Executive. Following on from his leaflet which was sent to all MSP's outlining his Skye Bridge buy-out scheme, he has written this week to Liberal Democrat MSP John Farquhar Munro and SNP MSP Brian Adam asking for their help. He wants to know what the Scottish Executive intentions are regarding the tolling period. Ron also wishes to force the Executive to confess and to confirm to some outrages profiteering written into the Skye Bridge contract which has been made worse by Labour's piecemeal solution, it's 'review of the toll' promised in the Labour 1997 Scottish Manifesto.

Ron raises the suspicion in one of the questions that as there is no obligation on Skye Bridge Ltd. at the end of their contract to remove the barriers and toll booth, that there may be an attempt by the Government to continue tolling. Has the Scottish Executive already decided that in order to recoup the Government's major investment in allowing Bank of America to make extortionate profits they will continue the toll? Will the A87 Extension Skye Bridge be toll free at the end of the present contract?

In another question, Ron wants the Executive to confirm that the discounting of the tolls collected on the Skye Bridge at double the rate of inflation instead of just at the rate of inflation effectively means that the concession period will be extended by at least three years and gives Skye Bridge Co. an extra profit of 10 million.

Ron is firmly of the opinion that "the clock is ticking for the buy-out. According to the laws of diminishing returns as the Government's year by year investment in subsidies piles up, so the financial attractions of a buy-out recede and the attractions of continued tolling increase, Tolls may become a permanent feature of island life. We must prevent that happening."

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Copyright Ray Shields, 1999.

Most recent revision, 09 October 1999