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SKAT Newsletter March 1998

Editorial Rants

A belated Happy New Year to all. The first of January saw the introduction of the new "cheap" tickets for "frequent users". Well done Donald, but at what cost? and please don’t think this "discharges obligation" to the people of Skye. Far from it.

The ferries have been kept on by Cal-Mac, the state owned shipping company and placed on different routes. While this is all very well, they were to have been sold and these monies would have effectively been returned to the exchequer. This will not now happen and so the Skye Bridge has cost the taxpayer about another 5 million.

The court system continues to rumble on and draw ranks against common sense and decency with the rule book getting more blatantly thrown out the window. Significant points of criminal law are being covered up and "forgotten about" to keep the political peace. Meanwhile, in the real world, guilty drugs pushers are let off because a signature was not present on some document. Justice is becoming a sick joke and we will eventually have to look to our European cousins for a solution. This should not have to be the case and is a very sad reflection on the new government however shaky their political direction may be.

With the heightened publicity over membership of Masons in legal positions the Bridge situation appears to be a sad reflection of "brothers" keeping the whole situation under wraps. The contract was given under suspicious circumstances. The legalities around the collecting of the tolls are equally suspicious and the subsequent legal challenges have met with a brick wall despite the most solid and convincing of legal arguments. It is to be hoped that the position over freemasonry being adopted in England and Wales will apply too in Scotland. It will be interesting to see who declares their Masonic interest in the Scottish legal profession showing possible links between the Skye Bridge cover up and Masonic membership.

New signs have appeared at the Skye side of the famous Kyleakin Roundabout and between the booths and Kyle. These show the fare (or unfare) structure charged by the bridge. The signs, however, make no reference to concessionary fares available and it will be interesting to see, in the summer, how many people do a handbrake turn at the Kyle sign before they even get to the tollbooths.

We are very grateful to Macmeanmna in Portree for sponsoring this issue of the news. Without such help it would not be possible to produce the News. Thanks lads.

 

Pressies? from Donald

Last edition of the news was asking where Donald Dewar’s promised reduced toll tickets and the New Year saw the introduction of said items. For the sum of 26 you can buy a book of twenty tickets from the Bridge Co.’s office (or Kyle’s second police station!). The tickets are used in much the same way as before except that the whole book must be produced for the car to pass the barrier. They are also valid only for one year from the date of purchase. The News wants to know:

• Why are books sold in books of twenty. Most people don’t travel off the island ten times a year.

• Why must the whole book be presented? One reason given by the Bridge co. is that the system works using bar codes - much the same as in supermarkets - and that they must scan the book cover and the ticket being surrendered.

• Who did Donald negociate with to achieve the new set-up and how much did he (or rather we) have to pay to get them to do this?

While SKAT welcomes any reduction in the toll we should remember there really has been no change in the toll and that the taxpayer is subsidising this reduction in cost making it an even worse deal for the poor old taxpayer. It may alienate even more tourists with the increased price differential and hotels, B&Bs, etc who used to send bridge tickets out to customers coming to the island can now not do this thus potentially worsening the already lowering number of visitors.

This change, and any one subsequent, must be debated in Parliament as long as it doesn’t go through "on the nod". Charles Kennedy raised an objection and is now waiting for a date to debate the matter further. Whenever this happens we can be sure the government will try it’s hardest to wriggle out of any open public debate. Especially in the House.

 

999 Club

The winners for January’s 999 club were as follows: 100 - Dornie(294), 50 - Kyleakin(47), 20 - Kingsburgh(105), 10 - Sconser(201). For February they were: 100 - Glasgow(278), 50 - Roag(332), 20 - Sleat(78), 10 - Dornie(115). Annabelle Robertson has taken over the running of the club so all correspondence should be addressed to her. (See ad for details). Many thanks to Hugh for running the show over the last year.

 

Passing a Motion

The Highland Council recently passed the following resolution:

"The Highland Council acknowledges and notes calls for an independent inquiry arising from concern about the propriety of the previous Government’s handling of the arrangements for securing the Skye Bridge, and agrees to write urgently to the Scottish Office indicating it’s willingness to assist fully with any independent inquiry"

This was swiftly supported by a statement from Margaret Ewing SNP MP reiterating the call for an independent enquiry into the affair. SKAT hopes to hear similar support from the Lib-Dem.s and, hopefully some Labour representatives, soon.

Whilst this may not be music to the ears of the Scottish Office and hence the Government, an independent enquiry would surely produce a more balanced and open report on the whole affair than previous attempts have yielded. We hope that the HC will stick to it’s word and make serious contact with the Scottish Office. Watch this space

 

The Civil Route...

Several Bridge protestors have decided taken a civil route in an attempt to halt the illegal toll collection. Using the Civil equivalent of a "Nuclear Weapon" a petition for a writ of interdict was placed with the Court of Session against the company collecting the tolls at the start of this month. The writ, placed by Robbie the Pict, asked the Court to prevent Miller Civil Engineering Ltd. from collecting any further tolls on the basis that they are not properly authorised according to Statute. It was prepared by the advocate Michael Upton and argues that anybody empowered to collect tolls must first be assigned that right by the Secretary of State for Scotland or any sub-contracting of this right must again be given by written consent from the Secretary of State for Scotland. The petition claims that there is no such written evidence and hence Miller Civil Engineering Ltd are acting in a criminal capacity.

Such action in the Civil courts can be a double edged sword in that the same judges who have ritually rejected any criminal appeals that there was reasonable doubt about the collections may be asked to consider the matter as a writ. It is also potentially much more expensive should the petition not be granted and costs may be awarded to the defendant. Robbie is quoted as saying "We have had criminal treatment in the criminal courts and we must hope for more civil treatment in the civil courts"

While this has upped the stakes considerably, a victory in the court would reap untold benefits and halt the sending of around 100 million to the Bank of America over a 27 year period. To this end the "Skye Bridge Interdict Appeal" has been set up to assist with the legal costs. Any persons wishing to contribute can do so through the account with the Bank of Scotland in Portree (a/c no. 852736 sort code 80-09-47). Every pound helps and an anonymous donation of 5000 has already been made.

The processing of the appeal is expected to take up to twelve weeks and so developments should happen around May/June. Watch the press!

 

Dingwall Dramatics

Readers of The News will be well used to the bizarre antics and exploits of the Dingwall Sheriff Court’s Legal Eagles with spotlight placed firmly on the prosecution. However, move over Hingston; enter stage left Sheriff Jimmy with some hilarious one liners (hilarious for all except the accused as usual)

A motorist was being "done" for road rage and Jimmy told him that like Admiral Byng, he had to make an example to discourage others. "Or as Voltaire said about the unfortunate Admiral, ‘pour encourager les autres’." Defence plead that his client had difficulty with his "anger management". Jimmy replied "Anger management? That’s all the rage these days".

 

More fodder for the ass

The asses in Dingwall Sheriff Court have been making pigs of themselves again.

Last year James Jagger approached the toll barrier on his motorbike. Before reaching the barrier he dismounted, switched the engine off and pushed the bike onto the pavement, thus avoiding the barrier. The asses sent him a citation for a traffic offence, driving his vehicle on a pavement. His trial was set for 12 January which he mistakenly thought was a Wednesday, and arranged for a day off work to attend even though he could scarcely afford the time off. The 12th happened to be a Monday and at 10pm that night, while James was having tea, the police arrived to arrest him. A surprised James asked what it was about, fetched his court notification in his defence, and learned about the error in dates. He offered to make his own way to Dingwall the following day but the police, doing nothing to improve their sullied reputation in these matters (they'd sat on the warrant all afternoon) told him to pack his bag. He reached Dingwall shortly after midnight.

The next morning he appeared in court at 10.30, only to be told the sheriff's father had died (divine retribution?) and that his case would be delayed. The court policeman told James he'd have to go back to the cell until 2.30. On the way they happened to meet Drew and Robbie the Pict who intervened, resulting in the quite remarkable outcome that Hingston allowed James to be entrusted into the custodianship of those two arch criminals. Wilfully disregarding their responsibility these two allowed James to go shopping in Inverness but did have him back in court for 2.30. He was found guilty and fined 30. Carrots for asses. And a week later Robbie won his case, accused of driving his car round the barrier on the pavement because the court accepted that the pavement did not display signs stating that vehicles were banned! Whatever else the law has between its ears, it sure ain’t a basic set of brains let alone justice..

PLEASE DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS - but if you are worried about your fine, phone the helpline, Robbie 01478 612203 or Andy 01470 542365.

 

'Hark the Herald' protest

(And talking of which, thanks to The Herald for great coverage and vociferous support). On Saturday 13 December about thirty SKAT supporters gathered in the pedestrian precinct outside Boots in Inverness. Selling SKAT Christmas cards and holding banners - eg "While Skye shepherds watch their flocks, Millers FLEECE 'EM" - they sang carols. A fun event which caught a lot of attention. The singers then sang and marched to Inverness prison where they tried to deliver a birthday cake to Andy Anderson. The cake was refused entry (frightened of hidden files?) so, accompanied by two jolly police officers, more carols were sung, composed by that brilliant seditious poet and song writer, Donnie MacDougall. Sorry about the cake, Andy, but a memorable birthday nonetheless. Did the Sheriff send a card?

 

Andy - The view from inside

No, the Sheriff didn't send a card (he's learning to count first). On 5 December Andy Anderson appeared in court prior to his trial on the 16th. The sheriff said he would slap a bail order for him to appear on that date but when Andy said he would not be turning up on the 16th the sheriff offered to remove such an order on the promise that Andy would show. Andy said he had no intention of complying. So, off to Inverness clink he went.

Strip search, shower, all possessions removed, prison clothing supplied, and into a dormitory of six other inmates. Up at 7am, collect breakfast tray, return with it to be locked in the dormitory, released to return tray - so began each day. Some days he remained locked up all day. Other days he was allowed into the exercise yard, TV room (all crime/horror movies!) or the pitiable library. 'It was as boring as hell,' he said. But he found the wardens sympathetic and considerate. They said the prison had never received as many calls as on the first day of Andy's internment. From all over the country. And letters of support arrived too. Among the other prisoners he was also something of a cause celebre, though there were some of the hardest and saddest cases to be found there. He ended up helping many write letters. And he wrote furiously himself to politicians and others to promote SKAT's cause.

It had taken months for Andy to get legal aid for his previous charges. Interestingly this time he got it within days!

His lawyer advised him that when he appeared on the 16th the court would have to deal with his non-payment of his first set of fines all those months (years?) ago. If he refused to pay them he could be had up for contempt of court and face three months in jail, so his lawyer told him. Andy said, so be it. What actually happened was the opposite! He was found guilty on his eight charges, whereupon Hingston, the prosecution, stood up and plead mitigation for the man he had just stitched up, saying he'd already served eleven days in jail. The sheriff took this into account and admonished him. The non-payment of his previous fines was studiously ignored. Ah dear - sometimes it's hard to know if we're dealing with asses or ostriches. Well done, Andy.

 

Second Report into

The Skye Bridge P.F.I.

John Campbell has produced the second detailed report which highlights the many unanswered questions and glaring inconsistencies (or criminal cover-ups) in this sorry project. This has been sent out to all Scottish MPs and relevant organisations, including the Public Accounts Committee, The National Audit Office, Inland Revenue, Companies House and the Fraud Squad.

A brief summary of this excellent report is not easy, given the intentional complexities of the secret deals which were made, but some of the points it raises are given below:

• Why has it been so hard to obtain information about Skye Bridge PFI? Because the contractors wrote into the contract that the terms of the agreement must be held secret. What was there to hide? Why should taxpayers' money be hidden by such secrecy? The answer can only be something very big and irregular.

• At first, two shares in the project appear to have existed and were transferred to Miller Construction and Bank of America (yet no record of this in Companies House). On 23 January 1992 a further 997 shares were issued to give the following allocation: Miller Civil Engineering 405, Dywidag Systems 405, Bank of America 190. On 19 June 1995 the share ownership was reported to Companies House as: Bank of America 997, Bank of America Nominees 3. Thus when the bridge opened the company was wholly controlled by the Bank of America International Ltd. (This is very important as regards the conditions of the European Investment Bank Loan - see later.)

• Miller Civil Engineering - set up on 11 November 1991. Four months later it passed a resolution to dispense with AGMs, dispense with laying of accounts before AGMs, dispense with appointing auditors. On 1 January 1993 all assets and work in progress of this company were transferred to the parent company, Miller Group. Miller Civil Engineering registered as 'dormant'. Among the official definitions of this term "a company is dormant during any period in which no transaction occurs which is for the company a significant accounting transaction." Among the "insignificant transactions" the dormant Miller Civil Engineering conducted was the construction of the Skye Bridge, The Friarton Bridge in Perth, two sections of the M74, the upgrading of the A1 and the M66 ring road round Manchester. Since the bridge opened Miller Civil Engineering (still dormant) appear to have been operating the toll concession. In court all the toll operators have sworn under oath that they are employed by Miller Civil Engineering. What is going on? Officially it would seem that the company had a trading life only sufficient to sign the contracts for the bridge. It's role would also seem to duplicate exactly that designed for Skye Bridge Ltd.

• The Skye Bridge project was supposed to have been a "Private Finance Initiative', however it is clear from the government's own Audit Commission that the "private" element of the finance was minimal. The financing was structured as follows (in millions): UK Government 15m, European Investment Bank 13m, Index-linked Loan Stock 7.5m, Contractors' Equity Stock 0.5m, Commercial Bank Debt up to 6m. Total: 42 million. Estimated cost: 21 million.

• When the project was set up no public sector comparison was carried out.

• All the authorities now agree the costs of construction were between 19 and 21 million pounds. It is clear that to build a toll free bridge would have required an extra 4 - 6 million. Surely it was not beyond the wit of our Civil Servants to source this money by borrowing from, for example, the European Investment Bank?

• On page 45 the Audit report gives construction costs as 20 million, yet on page 49 it gives the costs as 27.3 million - such is the complexity of the trail the project has been designed to leave.

• It is agreed that the total taxpayers contribution was 14.6 million (disagreement as to when it was actually paid). The developers put in 5.5 million, and if one assumes a profit for the contractors of (10%) 2 million, then the developers needed to put in another 0.9 million to complete the cost of construction. The developer's total comes to 8.4 million. Yet Skye Bridge Ltd accounts show the developers contributed 13.8 million in the two years 1994 & 1995 alone. Where did this figure come from?

• Is this the reason why two "shell" companies were needed for the project? One could postulate they were required to inflate the cost without it being easily traceable. It this was the end of the story it would be confusing enough but when the actual figures from Skye Bridge Ltd accounts are totalled it turns out that the total cost of construction was 30.9 million and not 20 million or 27.3 million. If one accepts that the cost of the bridge was 20 million and that the contractors were paid 30.9 million, the difference is 10.9 million. This figure is very close to the profit that they were supposed to earn from the 500,000 stake in Skye Bridge Ltd. The developers are no longer shareholders in S.B.L. - has their profit been 'front-loaded' in return for the shares, and if so, what if any risk do they carry now?

• Given that the taxpayer has apparently footed 60% of the real costs of the project, a detailed audit of the accounts should have been the role of the Audit Report. The other bodies that should making detailed enquiries are the European Investment Bank, Companies House and Inland Revenue

• Skye Bridge Ltd accounts state that it cost 509,151 to collect the tolls and a further 260,549 in administration charges giving a total of 769,700. This figure is almost four times what it cost to collect on the ferry. Why? It would appear that by using this mechanism of excessive charges for collection the project will generate an extra 10.24 million over the 18 years of the concession - tax free. Taken with the construction profits of 11 million, this makes it a very lucrative investment. And where does the Bank of America fit into all this? They now control 100% of S.B.L. and would appear to have put no money into the scheme. The money put in by the Scottish Office and European Investment Bank comes to a total of 28 million, more than enough to construct the bridge. What the B of A seems to have offered the project is a loan guarantee facility. It is interesting to note that their full involvement in the project ie when they took their initial 190 shares in S.B.L. dates from the same day as the EIB loan was confirmed.

• The whole project was over-subscribed by 100% and the European Investment Bank's money was in fact not needed. The EIB lays down very strict criteria for the type of project it will be involved with. The UK government supported the claim that the project met terms of the EIB's Article 130b. This is highly debatable, as is the claim that the bridge is 'of benefit to several member states'. The loan might have been refused had the EIB known the bridge they were paying for would be controlled by Bank Of America and all toll revenues would be transferred to California. It can be argued that this loan was fraudulently obtained and the government's refusal to allow Caledonian-MacBrayne to compete was an infringement of the EIB's Articles. EIB Article 18 (1) states they may loan money only where 'funds are not available from other sources on reasonable terms'. On this basis alone the EIB should not have lent the money.

• Christopher Leslie, MP, member of the Public Accounts Committee said the Skye Bridge PFI was "a licence to print money. We could have got a better deal on my Visa card." And he is right. It is time this whole project was properly investigated, this time with a view to finding out the truth. Unfortunately our own watchdogs have to rely on information submitted to them by civil servants who have a vested interest in covering up their own mistakes.

 

Robbie the Pict

Continues his untiring battles in the courts, both Dingwall and the High Court. Jimmy Fraser is gradually boxing himself in and resorting to behaviour which shows an ever-deepening desperation and bias. In one of Robbie's recent trials Jimmy took over the Prosecution's role for over an hour! And then closed Robbie's case before he had finished giving evidence. A right kangaroo court.

Robbie's caravan continues to protest at the tolls. When Russel Thompson asked what it was there for, Robbie explained it was the Community Liaison Office for the Bridge (SBL is meant to conduct regular liaisons with the community). Soon it is to carry the slogan: BANK OF AMERICA CASHLINE AHEAD - DEPOSITS ONLY.

Commenting on the whole farce, Robbie summarised the convoluted project: They wanted to set up a slush fund for their own purposes though over-subscription to the project and investment in the concession to collect tolls. By this means, both Bank of America and any investors make a profit out of the process of the public repaying the supposed costs of the bridge (at least 20 million excessive funding was created and still no answers as to where it was placed and to whose benefit). Interestingly, the 12.7 million borrowed from the EIB, with Lang standing as security, exactly equals the sum Miller was in the red, according to Companies House accounts for 1992. And that 20 million over-subscription is very close to the 19.7 million which was the Tory Party's overdraft at the Royal Bank of Scotland. (Note: it is the Royal Bank of Scotland which has the contract to handle the Bridge revenues and despatch them to the USA.)

Robbie was recently in the High Court on the appeal of Sheriff Penman’s ruling on the non-payment of tolls. His argument was that Crown prosecution 16 did not express consent from the Secretary of State for sub-contracting of the toll collection. In court he was also not allowed to identify his reasonable excuse in evidence which the Crown went on to rebut. Despite the fact it had never been given.

In another appearance Lord Coulsfield ruled on what the charge for passing through the toll barrier actually was.. He stated that it was "simply a charge for the use of a road which is subject to a toll order"

He was then asked what a toll charge actually was. His reply was "a charge subject to a toll order". Catch 22?

This is clearly a violation of human rights where the payers are not being made clear on exactly what they are being charged for.

Lord Coulsfield was then asked if the charge was a state sponsored excise (ie a tax). "No" was the reply which is quite strange as this is exactly what the description of the charge is being given to Brussels at the moment to avoid prosecution on the non-payment of VAT on the bridge on the grounds that you can’t tax something twice. Should Lord Coulsfild’s judgement affect this matter then the bridge company could find themselves with a 2 million cashflow "hiccup". This could also have repercussions on all UK tolled passageways where VAT has not been paid for as far back as 1972 when the UK entered the Common Market.

 

The Public? Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee have, at last, stated the minutes from their meeting of the 17th November will be out on the 11th March and the Report is expected 6 weeks following this. Why should it take so long for minutes to be available? Could this be because part of the meeting was conducted in private? Seemingly this has not happened in 100 years. Must be a centennial thing?

SKAT would like to ask Mr Dick Gill - The National Audit Commissioner for Scotland - the following:

• Why were all documents pertaining to the Skye Bridge all signed by James Innes, a civil servant and not by Ian Lang the then Scottish Secretary.

• Why were there two contracts in the Skye Bridge project ie one for the contract for construction and one for the concession. The concession agreement should have been made for Skye Bridge Tolls Ltd. to collect the balance of the contract which was 23.6 million less 14.6 million and not the right to collect tolls for 27 years at 3 to 4 million per year. This works out between a staggering 80 to 100 million being drained from the area’s economy.

• Why are Skye Bridge Tolls allowed to collect tolls to the tune of at least 23.6 million when the taxpayer has already paid 15 million into the murky project.

• Why were RD11 & RD12 sold for 50 by the HRC to potential bidders when this was a PFI and all tenderers had to do their own designing?

• Was it only Millers, Morrisons and Trafalgar House who bought these documents? Anyone reading them would have picked the concrete box girder bridge but despite this why did Morrisons and Trafalgar House take the most expensive options?

• Roads Directorate 15 (RD 15 - which each tenderer to the project received) states money contributed by the Scottish Office (which was originally 6 million but eventually came to 15 million) cannot be recouped by tolls. When the taxpayer put 15 million into a project of 23.6 million (max) for the bridge, approach roads, etc., the total recovered monies should therefor be around 8.6 million and not the 39 million as stated in his report. Has the bridge not already been paid for over the last two years when the income was around that figure?

• Can he tell SKAT where the balance between 39 million and 23.6 million went to? He has already been asked this on the ‘phone and stated he could not answer this.

• Was he aware that, at the time of the Public Enquiry, the shares in the bridge company had all been transferred to the Bank of America as was revealed recently?

• Why did Skye Bridge Tolls apply for a loan of 12.7 million in 1991 when they should have had all their financing organised before they became preferred bidders in April 1991?

• Why did they get the loan when the scheme was a PFI and the taxpayer was already making a substantial contribution?

• Is JMP James Mackay & Partners or James Miller & Partners?

• Finally, can Mr Gill tell us if RD11 & RD12 had anything to do with the contract on the Skye Bridge considering the Miller-Dywidag box girder tender which financial analysts have shown to be in very close agreement with the pre-tender estimate of 15 million derived from the JMP 1988 report (RD12). The reason we ask is he spoke on the phone to a researcher denying it had anything to do with the Skye Bridge contract!

NB The EIB loan repayments start after 7 years (around 2000-2001). As we approach the new century was it envisaged, when the EIB was founded that it’s loans would be making huge profits for an American Bank out of an Objective 1 financed area contrary to it’s own basic principle of operation

 

Legal matters

Robert Stewart, who was wrongly charged for non-payment at the toll booth (see News Nov ‘97), received an apology for his mis-handling from Deputy Chief Constable Kieth Cullen. This was swiftly followed by a summons to attend court due to his alleged blocking of the carriageway approaching the toll booth. He was charged with failure to move his vehicle when told to do so by a uniformed officer and unnecessary obstruction of the road and was fined 100 a shot by Sheriff Jimmy. Robert refused to pay these fines and Jimmy said:

"I suppose you want to be sent to prison however we will recover the fine through civil diligence".

Rob is diligently waiting in for the Sheriffs (not so) merry men to pop round for tea and scones.

There are a few appeals to the High Court in Edinburgh mounting up. The procedure is thus The defendant is found guilty. The defendant appeals. The Sheriff writes a stated case giving reasons for his judgement. This is considered at the High Court and, if accepted, a date for a hearing will be given. From initial prosecution to High Court hearing can take up to two years. The Sheriff should give the stated case within 21 days or apply for extensions thereafter and then it is in the lap of the Gods as to how long the High Court will take. We know this process took 10 days from Dingwall trial to Edinburgh hearing in July ‘97. This being so would it not be for the good of everybody concerned that the remaining cases going through the system are treated with the same rapidity. OK their lordships may have to work a wee bit harder but that’s what we, the taxpayers, pay them for.

 

Tendering Farce

SKAT researchers can prove that the Skye Bridge tendering process did not meet European competition legislation.

JMP Consultants were commissioned in 1985 by the Highland Regional Council to produce a feasibility study into a bridge to Skye. When completed, this document was called Roads Directorate 11 (RD11) updated in 1988 and renamed RD12.

Through these two documents JMP consultants designed two cable stay bridges, one steel box girder bridge and one concrete box girder bridge and costed them for the benefit of the HRC & Scottish Office to give them pricing guidelines. Throughout the feasibility study it states that the preferred bridge (and also the cheapest) was the concrete box girder bridge on the Western Route which was eventually chosen. These designs, through the study, were paid for by the taxpayer at a cost of more than 100,000.

Around this time (1988) Morrisons and Trafalgar House were suggesting to HRC that the bridge could be built if the Private Finance Initiative was used as there was no money available from it’s roads budget. Millers and Dywidag were forming a joint venture and the Bank of America had read RD11 & 12. These key events happening one year before the tendering process.

In October 1989 JMP Consultants were employed by the Scottish Office to overlook the construction of the project and received 1.26 million for their troubles. They were hired, according to the National Audit Report, in a "one tender appointment" ie not competitively.

In November 1989 the Scottish Office (SO) produced a document called RD15 providing "Information for Tenderers". It gives details of what was expected from all tenderers including

1. Submissions from suitable concerns must be received by 12 noon on Friday 22nd December 1989 providing a total of 7 weeks to provide an outline disign of suitable bridges.

2. Tenderers were invited to "design, construct, finance and operate the crossing"

3. "The Roads Directorate intends to give tenderers as much freedom as possible to produce an efficient and cost effective design."

4. "Designers will be expected to give due consideration to the aesthetics of the crossing."

5. "A report was prepared by JMP consultants (RD11 & 12) for HRC - The Scottish Office neither participated in, nor adopted this report, does not guarantee it and does not wish tenderers to be bound by it."

If this last quote is the case, why had the Scottish Office employed JMP Consultants one month prior to the tendering process starting ?

44 enquiries were received for this document yielding 10 design outlines from 6 consortia on the 22nd of December ‘89. Of these 10 designs, four came from Miller-Dywidag, Trafalgar House and Morrisons which appeared to be identical to the four found in RD 11&12. The 10 designs were shown to the Royal Fine Arts for Scotland, to the Countryside Commission and to the National Trust for Scotland. These bodies decided that Miller-Dywidag, Trafalgar House and Morrisons designs were sufficiently attractive and, with the Scottish Office and HRC recommendation, they were shortlisted.

Did these bodies realize that, while they spent a year pondering the decision of what bridge would be the best for Skye, identical bridges were designed by JMP Consultants? When JMP Consultants were hired in October 1989 to overlook the contract, the tendering process and the public enquiry, why did they remain silent when it was obvious that the bridges had been designed by themselves. It is ironic that the three considered tenderers - Miller’s, Morrisons and Trafalgar House effectively pilfered the JMP designs claiming them for their own.

We do, however, wonder how JMP feel when all the credit for design of the bridge and awards thus given, go to Miller-Dywidag Joint Venture or Skye Bridge Ltd. Maybe their feelings were silenced by the 1.26 million payment for their second role with the bridge project. We therefore feel that questions should be directed to JMP Consultants, whoever they are, as well as all the other organisations represented at the various enquiries. It should also be asked why they were employed as overseeing engineers? Could it be that the bridge design had been chosen by the Scottish Office & HRC before the tendering process started and, knowing who the real designers were it would be prudent to bring them back into the equation?

It is also worth mentioning, once again, that the three companies mentioned here are all known contributors to the Tory Party. However, we are sure this has nothing to do with it!

(c) SKAT, 1998

Last revision 13 March 1998