Skye Bridge Ltd. may have shot themselves in the foot in their latest letter to SKAT. They have disclosed information which, say SKAT, proves that the current toll regime is illegal.
The bridge company's admission emerged after SKAT wrote to the Bank of America earlier in the month as part of their bid to transfer the bridge to community ownership (well, if it's good enough for Eigg!). The letter was then passed to Skye Bridge Ltd. and in the reply from their company secretary, Ewan Donaldson, they outlined some of the problems with the plan.
In the letter, Mr. Donaldson said, "The company is prevented from assigning or selling its rights under the Concession Agreement...and any assignment or sale of rights under the Concession Agreement would also be the subject of approval by the Secretary of State for Scotland."
For two years, SKAT have tried in vain to get confirmation that Skye Bridge Ltd. are prevented by their contract with the Government to assign the right to collect bridge tolls to any other body without the express permission of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The significance of this is that employees of another company, Miller Civil Engineering, actually collect the tolls and, so far, they have been unable to produce any evidence which proves that they have the authority to undertake the role. The answer to this simple question has been elusive until now because of Government evasiveness and collusion by certain members of the Scottish legal system.
SKAT's convener Drew Miller said "We knew we would eventually get the answer to the question, but we never thought that one of their own staff would blurt it out in response to a different question."
SKAT members who are due to appear in court next week will be starting to use this latest letter in their defence.
Robbie the Pict was, today, trying in the High Court in Edinburgh to force the company to release the 170 pages of the concession agreement. He already has a copy of the pages which were leaked to SKAT some weeks ago, but cannot use them in court. SKAT are also looking at attempting to take out an interim interdict to prevent toll collection.
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 1997.
Most recent revision, 13 March 1998