SKAT Seek Resignation Of Bridge Working Group Chairman

Highland Council Convener, Mr. Peter Peacock, is being asked to resign his position as chair of the Council’s important Skye Bridge Working Group. The Group was set up in 1995 and has been instrumental in forging the Council’s policy of removal of the controversial tolls from the bridge. But anti-tolls group SKAT are now calling for Mr. Peacock’s resignation maintaining that he has done nothing to further the Council’s anti-tolls objective.

At its Annual General Meeting, held in Portree on Saturday 19 Dec 98, the more than fifty SKAT members present resolved that the only way to ensure progress on the Council’s no-tolls policy for the bridge was the removal of Mr. Peacock from the Working Group chairmanship.

For some time a number of Skye and Lochalsh councilors have been known to be unhappy with the infrequency of the Working Group meetings and the fact that the Group’s newsletter, intended to be a regular feature, has not appeared for two years.

Dunvegan hotelier, Alasdair Maclean, who was re-appointed for a further term as SKAT Press Spokesman at Saturday’s AGM said, “ Highland Council are committed to a policy of toll removal yet they have been strangely silent on the issue in recent months. What, in practice, are they doing by way of lobbying the Scottish Office on the tolls question? Mr. Peacock as Chairman has controlled the timetable and agenda of the Skye Bridge Working Group meetings and these have become less and less frequent and seem to produce nothing at all.” Mr. Maclean went on to say that SKAT felt it was time that a councilor more genuinely sympathetic to toll removal replaced Mr. Peacock.

Saturday’s meeting also condemned the fact that Skye Bridge Ltd have just announced a new scale of increased toll charges without any prior notice or consultation. Members said that this was shameful considering the fact that the bridge operators are still refusing to disclose precisely how much of the total costs of the project has been paid off and what amount is still outstanding. Under the new regime, which becomes effective on 2nd January, a toll of 5.70 for a single journey by car across the bridge during the high season is created. Campaigners maintain that comparable percentage increases in tolls for buses and lorries are devastating the island’s economy. Meanwhile SKAT is finalising a further information package to be presented to the House of Commons in time for its tolls’ debate on January 14th.

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Copyright Ray Shields, 1998.

Most recent revision, 06 January 1999