21 December 04
MSP Rob Gibson Calls For Fines and Convictions Over Skye Bridge To
Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands added his voice to
congratulate the people of Skye and the Outer Isles for being
liberated from Skye Bridge tolls.
Rob was one of many SKAT protesters who
was arrested and fined for non-payment in 1997.
He said..." I am delighted the
islanders and all visitors to Skye and the Outer Isles have been rid
of the draconian toll regime, but the fact that the tolls existed
for 9 years is nothing short of scandalous and deplorable when you
consider the vast personal cost incurred by people who had to pay to
use the bridge especially those who lived in the in Skye and
He continued...."To my knowledge I am
the only MSP with a criminal record for non-payment at the Kyle of
Lochalsh toll booth. Many people were fined for tolls non-payment. I
paid a £100 fines for two offences and hope that all outstanding
prosecutions will be stopped immediately."
He added "Citizens from all Scotland
showed solidarity with Skye and received a conviction for doing so,
so I will be asking the Law Officers of the Government to quash
existing convictions for non-payment."
21 December 04
Sky Bridge Tolls Abolished
Skye Bridge tolls were abolished today with immediate effect.
Speaking in Kyleakin where he met local schoolchildren, the First
Minister Jack McConnell said: "As an islander, I am delighted that
today marks the end of the discredited toll regime on the Skye
"This is the start of a new era for
Skye. Instead of the Bridge being a symbol of controversy - it can
now be a symbol for growth and prosperity. "A toll-free bridge
will boost tourism and commerce - to the benefit not only of the
Skye and Lochalsh economy, but also across the Highlands as a
The Skye Bridge was opened nine years
ago having been built as one of the first private finance projects.
Tolls have been in place for all that time until today.
Transport Minister Nicol Stephen, said:
"This is a historic day for everyone on Skye. We made a commitment
last year to end the tolls on Skye bridge. Today that promise has
"The abolition of tolls sweeps away a
source of deep division and genuine injustice. Today's announcement
is a major commitment to the highlands of Scotland and to our island
and rural communities."
The payment to Skye Bridge Ltd is
expected to be around £27 million. The final figure will be known
after December 31 when the final audited accounts of SBL are
The Executive takes formal
responsibility for the bridge from January 1, 2005, and future
maintenance will be carried out by BEAR on behalf of the Executive.
The decision to remove the tolls was
taken following the completion of the first phase of the bridges
review which looked at how tolls impact on environmental and
economic objectives of reducing pollution and congestion.
It showed that the removal of tolls on
the Skye Bridge would have no adverse traffic or environmental
The work allowed Ministers to take an
early decision to remove the tolling regime on Skye bridge.
The traffic context and potential
implications of changing or removing tolls on the other bridges in
Scotland are more complicated and require further consideration
before any decisions are made.
Erskine plays a key role in the
economic regeneration of West Dunbartonshire. In the East, Forth and
Tay bridges are vital links from Fife to the cities of Dundee and
Edinburgh and beyond and there are significant local congestion
The second phase of the review will
consider these specific congestion issues as well as how Erskine
Bridge might help in meeting the challenge of reducing congestion at
the Clyde Tunnel and the Kingston Bridge in the centre of Glasgow.
Commerzbank AG were appointed in
January 2004 to identify and analyse options for the future of
tolling at Skye.
This work was essential before
negotiations with SBL to end the tolling regime could begin. The
final negotiations were carried out between Executive officials and
directors of SBL.
8 June 04
SSP Congratulate SKAT
Scottish Socialist Party MSP Carolyn Leckie today congratulated
campaign group SKAT on their successful fight against the
Skye Bridge tolls and backed their call for an immediate end to the
tolls. Carolyn said: "We welcome Deputy First Minister
Jim Wallace's pledge to end the Skye > Bridge tolls later this year
but we'd like to know why it can't be done now.
of Skye have paid far too high a price already. "We
congratulate SKAT and the people of Skye for their determ ned and
courageous campaign against the tolls." "I was delighted to be
able to contribute to the campaign through the Scottish Parliament
Petitions Committee. "The Executive's announcement is a
victory not just for the people of Skye but for campaigners across
Scotland who are fighting against the involvement of private
profiteers in our transport, schools, hospitals and prisons.
"We call on everyone who opposes New Labour's free market agenda,
who > doesn't want to see a repeat of the Skye Bridge fiasco, to
back the Scottish
7 June 04
Skye Bridge Tolls May Be Gone By End Of 2004
The Highland Council
Convener Councillor Alison Magee has welcomed the statement by
Depute First Minister Jim Wallace that the Scottish Executive aims
to achieve its goal of removing tolls on the Skye Bridge by the end
of this year. Councillor Magee said: “This is the most
positive statement we have received from the Scottish Executive on
the removal of the tolls and it is very welcome indeed. We can only
hope that Mr Wallace is able to deliver in the timescale he has
indicated in the Scottish Parliament.”
The removal of tolls on the Skye Bridge has been a major campaigning
issue for the Council since it was set up in 1996. It is a standing
item on the agenda of the full council.
At their last meeting, Councillors expressed their concern that
proposals by the Executive to remove the toll regime appeared to
have been delayed by a review of toll charges on all road bridges in
Scotland. They also agreed to investigate petitioning the Court of
Session for a judicial review of the tolling regime on the Skye
Bridge. Head of Legal Services Malcolm McRae was asked to prepare a
report for the next meeting of the Council on 24 June detailing the
legal process and the likely costs involved
The Convener paid tribute to the persistence of John Farquhar Munro,
MSP for Ross Skye and Inverness West, in keeping the issue to the
forefront of debate in the Parliament.
Sea To Skye With 6° West
A great new service from Portree to
Gairloch or vice versa. From June 2004 it is possible to take
a trip from Gairloch to Skye and back on a new high speed jet boat.
One way tickets cost £10 and the boat can take 36 passengers.
The boat also undertakes short cruises in the area. In future
years the service will operate April - October.
7 June 04
SKYE TO HOST MAJOR EUROPEAN EDUCATION CONFERENCE
The annual Interskola
Conference, which brings together delegates from Europe with an
interest in education in rural communities, is returning to the
Highlands this summer. It is to be held on the island of Skye from
25 to 31 July 2004 at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic-Medium
College, Sleat, partner with the University of the Highlands and
This year delegates will have the opportunity to visit an island
community which has experienced recent rejuvenation and a rekindling
of traditional values. The international dimension, not only in
Highland, but also in Scottish education will be considered, with
speakers from HMIE and Learning and Teaching Scotland.
Representatives from The Highland Council will attend and take part
and there will be discussions on the role which developments in
“e-learning” are likely to play in the future sustainability of
education in rural areas.
A visit to Ardnamurchan High
School has been organised, during which delegates will see how
Information and Communication Technology has been built into the
learning experience of pupils. They will also be informed about
the success there of the nationally debated Public Private
Partnership programme to build new schools across Scotland.
Bruce Robertson, Director of Education Culture and Sport, The
Highland Council, said: "We are delighted and honoured that
Interskola has returned to Highland. The venue at Sabhal Mor Ostaig
is spectacular and the programme should also give delegates a great
insight to education in the Highlands of Scotland. We all can learn
lots from experiences from other countries and this should be a
7 June 04
Touching The Awards
Club Film on Skye has had its quality programme of films recognised
for a second year running by the British Federation of Film
Societies. It is celebrating this with a special showing of
‘Touching the Void’ this weekend. At the recent award ceremony
in London, Club Film was named ‘Runner-up’ in the award for Best
Film Programme 2004. Last year, Club Film entered for the first time
In an excellent example of the sort of film that the Club is
bringing to an enthusiastic audience in Skye, it is screening the
epic mountaineering film ‘Touching the Void’ this Saturday and
Sunday in its venue at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College.
Part of Club Film’s success is in welcoming figures from the film
industry at screenings. ‘Touching the Void’ will be introduced by
Justine Wright, the film’s editor, who will then take part in a
question and answer session at the end.
Club Film’s second season comes to an end in June with screenings of
‘The Time of the Gypsies’ and ’Whisky Galore’.
Club Film operates full Dolby sound-surround at 35 mm projection on
a large screen in the main venue of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic
College in south Skye. Club Film was inspired by Chris Young, the
film producer living in south Skye. It screens around 20 films each
year and is organised and operated by a group of volunteers in the