Press Release 29 January 1998
SKAT is rejecting as pathetic and contemptible the claims by both Skye Bridge Ltd. and the Scottish Office that there is nothing sinister in the fact that it has now emerged that Skyes only road link to the mainland is owned by a beleaguered American bank. Furthermore SKAT question whether or not the European Investment Bank was duped into giving the Bank of America a loan of £12.7m and say that there are strong grounds for referring the whole PFI project to the Parliamentary Commissioner because of its myriad short-comings.
Yesterday while confirming SKATs claims, Skye Bridge Ltd. lambasted the media for mis-reporting, claiming that the detailed information that had been winkled out of the authorities as to the ownership of the Bridge was in the public domain and available to anyone who cared to look for it. The Scottish Office, predictably, threw in their tuppence-worth suggesting that the Bank of Americas ownership of the bridge was simply an administrative requirement which would be rectified at the expiry of the concession period. Try as they may to dress up this sad story the simple fact is that for all practical purposes, for as long as tolls are collected at the Skye Bridge, the Bank of America will own 99.7% of the toll company. If toll collection ever comes to an end who will care whether the Bank of America passed its shared back to Millers Civil Engineering ? But by this time between £80 million and £100million will have been extracted from unfortunates who have no alternative but to cross the Skye Bridge.
"The admission by SBL that what we have been saying all along is exactly right has huge ramifications," according to SKAT member John Campbell who has spent a couple of years getting to the truth of the matter. "For example why did they not tell the public inquiry, the Audit Commission and members of the public. Were the EIB aware that the Bank of America were both the borrowers and the guarantors of the loan. Our researches show in fact that the bridge was apparently already paid for by the time the loan was given. Was it really necessary ? Perhaps one of the companies concerned needed the money, certainly the project didnt."
Mr. Campbell reiterated the call for an inquiry into the whole project since the ownership issue is but one of the many dubious things in the scheme.
Contact John Campbell. 01478 61 2627 or 01478 61 2868
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 1997.
Most recent revision, 13 March 1998