Shadow Tolls - A More Reasonable Way Of Paying
Figures released by the Scottish office reveal that the cost of the bridge to the area of Skye & Lochalsh area will be about three million pounds per year. In the course of the contract, a staggering fifty one million pounds will be drained from our already fragile economy.
The concept of Shadow Tolling, suggested by SKAT very early in the campaign, is one that the Government at last appears to be taking seriously. Despite repeated requests from people like Brian Wilson, MP, the figures above were given by Lord James Douglas-Hamilton in response to a letter from Myrna Scott-Moncrief, founder and very active member of SKAT.
Shadow Tolling would mean that the Government would estimate the usage of the bridge in a given year, and would then pay the contractors a sum based on that usage. There would be no tolls to be paid on the bridge by the users. The scheme is one being used by the Government for all other Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) that they are engaging in.
Michael Forsyth claims that it would be impossible for the Government to raise the money required for the shadow toll. It is a sad reflection on his ability to manage if he cannot find three million pounds out of the billions that Government deals with. Figures from the Automobile Association (AA) show that only approximately 10% of the revenue collected in the form of Road tax is actually spent on roads; perhaps some tiny fraction of the balance could be used to make the bridge toll free.
The fact that the Scottish Office seems to be prepared to consider shadow tolling for the bridge indicates that our efforts have not been in vain. It would be interesting to compare the money being pumped into our area by Europe through Objective One status, and the amount being removed by the Bank of America through the toll booth. Watch this space!
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Copyright © Ray Shields, 1997.
Most recent revision, 13 March 1998