Following weekend consultations on Skye with SKAT and the Skye Bridge Appeal Group, as well as discussions with Councillor Peter Peacock, Convener of the Highland Council, and Councillor John Farquhar Munro, Chairman of the Council's Transport Committee, Charles Kennedy MP has, last Monday, released the following statement:-
" It is clear that the events of last week leave the situation in something of a legal limbo.
Accordingly, given the current impasse, tomorrow I shall be tabling further parliamentary questions to the Lord Advocate and the Secretary of State for Scotland.
1. How soon does the Lord Advocate anticipate that the Crown Office appeal in respect of Sheriff Fraser's opinion will take to be heard?
2. Is it competent for the Scottish Office to suspend toll collection pending the hearing of the appeal and pay interim recompense to Skye Bridge Ltd?
3. Will the Lord Advocate institute an immediate review by a senior Advocate of the toll order?
4. Will the Scottish Office release an early analysis of the conflicting financial interpretations being put forward as to the real costs to the public purse involved in buying out the bridge contract?
It seems clear to me that, before the Secretary of State can embark on the package of toll reductions already announced, both he and the Lord Advocate must satisfy themselves as to the legality of what is going on.
These recent cases revealed huge loopholes; who knows what further shortcomings will be exposed by further test cases?
That is why the balance of legal and political advantage is surely tipping towards buying out the contract and being done with this entire sorry affair."
Copyright © Ray Shields, 1997.
Most recent revision, 15 July 1997.