Press Release 20 February 1998

More Compelling Reasons for a Public Inquiry

SKAT accuse the present and previous governments of attempting keep the actual cost of the Skye Bridge PFI from the public in a vain attempt to defuse opposition to the toll regime. Since the opening of the Skye Bridge so many different figures for the cost of the project have been quoted by the authorities that the inescapable conclusion is that there has been a concerted attempt to mislead the public. To compound matters yet another figure, this time 23.6 million, was recently forwarded to SKAT by civil servants. To date the campaign is aware of a plethora of different total project costs ranging from 18 million to 39. Such vagueness would not be tolerated in any other circumstance where so much public money has been spent. Nor would the situation where, with the connivance of the Government, a private developer stands to make huge profits at the expense of a fragile rural area. But, as we have now come to expect, normal standards do not apply in the case of the Skye Bridge.

SKAT’s convener, Drew Millar, is convinced that precise information about this project is being deliberately withheld in order disguise just how appalling a deal the Skye Bridge PFI was for the tax and toll-payer. "It’s the mushroom approach they’ve employed - keep them in the dark and shovel manure on them! But they did not legislate for a group like SKAT beavering away to shed light on the whole murky affair, nor are we being distracted by mis-information and various forms of abuse emanating from the government"

According to Mr. Millar SKAT have blown away the smoke-screen wilfully created around the ownership of Skye Bridge Ltd. and now the smoke is clearing on the contentious issue of what the cost of the project. "It’s crucial for any community to know to whom they pay tolls and how much they have to fork out. We’ve already exposed the deceit there has been over the ownership of Skye Bridge Ltd., and now we’re pinning them down on the question of how much, or how little, this project cost."

SKAT’s own calculations, based on official figures, reveal that the bridge has already been paid for. Given this, the prospect of the Skye people having to pay out up to 100 million in tolls over the remaining toll period is nothing short of scandalous. The government should accede to the mounting pressure for an independent public inquiry into the whole affair. They could save face by doing so now since, with further delay, they risk being the subject of public opprobrium when the truth of the matter is eventually exposed.

Contact:- Robbie Cormack 01478 612203

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Copyright Ray Shields, 1997.

Most recent revision, 13 March 1998