General Secretary: Convener:
Andy Anderson Dr Julian Toms
Eadar dà Allt 22, Earlish, Portree Medical Centre
Nr Portree. Isle-of-Skye
Tel: 01470-542365 Fax: 01470-542715
Saturday 1st May ’04
To: John Farquhar Munro MSP
Dear Sir, Re: Skye Bridge tolls.
As you are aware we in SKAT take the view that you, as an individual MSP, have consistently endeavoured to honour the promise you made to our community to work for the abolition of the Skye Bridge tolls.
This is in stark contrast to most politicians who have always found other things more pressing, or more immediate, than the removal of the tolls. Indeed we note that in order to try to meet your commitment to the community on this, you have had to threaten your own party with voting against the Partnership Agreement.
We have had enough of this political paralysis, where Scottish Ministers confronted by the Skye Bridge Company act like a rabbit hypnotised by a weasel. We have now decided as an organisation to re-open our direct challenges at the toll booth.
At 12 noon to-day two teams of SKAT protestors approached the toll booths from both sides of the bridge with me at the head of one group, and Dr Toms leading the other.
Our objective was to smoke out the mysteries of the date stamp swindle. Some 4 years ago Alasdair Morrison MSP, who was then a Minister told a meeting on Tourism in Nairn, in answer to a question from me, that the Scottish Executive were taking steps towards dealing with the date stamp issue.
We thought we would help the Scottish Executive address some of these issues, and we very successfully did that.
Our protest exposed the following, for which we have indisputable evidence:
That the Company is not applying its own stated “rules” relating to the use of outdated tickets in an open and consistent way.
That the company is not prepared to test the legality of its “rules” in the Civil Courts.
That the company is trying to use the police, and the power of the criminal law to uphold its self imposed “rules” which are purely a civil matter, and are not a matter for the police.
That the company have a strategy of refusing to deal with their civil rights and responsibilities, or to debate them, by forcing ticket holders to stay behind a closed barrier in the hope that they will cause obstruction on the highway, and that this will force the police to act against them.
This is an abuse of our civil and criminal law blatantly carried out in order to defend the use by the company of the appalling date stamp system which is so disadvantageous to the families on low incomes in our community.
It is now quite clear to us that the company has no legal grounds for using the date stamp system, and knows that it is incapable of establishing this in a civil court so it is attempting to deliberately hold our community to ransom by causing an obstruction on the highway, then forcing the police to clear the obstruction.
We will not be intimidated by such tactics. We intend to challenge this regularly and effectively until we have exposed this fraud and given low income families the full right to lower crossing tickets which are currently available to regular users.
We would be obliged if you would, as a matter of urgency bring this to the attention of Nicol Stephen, the Scottish Transport Minister for is attention.
This particular abuse could of course be done away with overnight if the Minister is able to tell us that the tolls will be removed.
Le deagh dhùrachd,
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Most recent revision, 03 May 2004