Press Release 29 June 1998

Scottish Office Failing to See the Wood for the Trees

Skye Bridge anti-tolls protesters are today expressing astonishment at the Scottish Office's refusal to even consider options other than allowing the iniquitous tolls to remain in place. Reaction last week from Scottish Office Ministers to the highly critical Public Accounts Committee Report indicated that the nature of the contract with the Anglo-German consortium Miller-Dywidag and Bank of America was such that it could not be re-examined.

The Report of the influential Commons watchdog committee slated the project stating that it would cost double the original 23m bill, with neither the UK taxpayer nor the bridge toll-payer getting value for money.

Meeting in Portree on Saturday SKAT supporters heard their convener, Highland Councillor Drew Millar, say that it is preposterous that the Government has just announced that they are to fork out hundreds of millions of pounds to clear the debt of the Humber Bridge, yet they will not even consider the Skye Bridge situation.

"Of course the Humber Bridge is in the constituency of Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. But the people of the Highlands were told that if they voted New Labour they'd have friends in high places too. They can come to our aid now! SKAT's researches show that the Government is, in any case, wildly over-estimating what it will cost to close this contract. If they spent a fraction of the time that they are spending on defending the contract on seriously looking at it in detail, they would find ways off this hook."

To highlight the dual role of the Bank of America as funders and advisers on the project, a role severely criticised by the Public Accounts Committee, SKAT's next demonstration on the bridge will be next Saturday, 4th July, American Independence Day.

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Copyright Ray Shields, 1998.

Most recent revision, 13 July 1998