Ferry angry over bridge merger plans

280910 Forth road bridge scaffolding on south side.
280910 Forth road bridge scaffolding on south side.
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ANGER has been expressed in Queensferry over Scottish Government proposals to privatise the management of the Forth Road Bridges.

A decision was taken by Transport Minister Keith Brown to dissolve the FETA board - which is partly made up of local councillors and manages the current bridge locally - and put the management of the Forth Road bridge and the new Forth Replacement Crossing up for tender to a private company.

Steps will now be taken to find a single contractor to run both bridges. FETA will not be bidding for the contract.

Instead its 70 staff will see their jobs transferred and protected under the new contractor.

The Transport Minister said: “This option would deliver value for money through market testing for both bridges and offers operational efficiencies through a twin-bridge strategy.”

But the move has led to local concerns over future local accountability regarding the Forth Road Bridge.

Martin Gallagher, vice chairman of Queensferry and District Community Council said: We are very disappointed by this decision which we believe will not best serve the interests of bridge users and residents.

“QDCC has developed a good working relationship with Forth Road Bridge management under the current arrangements so that local factors can be considered when undertaking essential maintenance. It is difficult to see how this will be accommodated in the future with a private operator who will only be answering to their employer, Transport Scotland.’’

Responding to the decision, FETA convener, councillor Tony Martin said: “We are pleased that the minister has accepted our view that a single body should be appointed to manage the new crossing and the existing bridge together, taking advantage of existing staff and resources. We always recognised that this might mean dissolving FETA as currently constituted, although it is important that some local accountability is retained in light of the impact of bridge works on local communities.

“We welcome the news that there will be no compulsory redundancies, as it is vital that we retain the unique knowledge and skills of the highly experienced team already on site.”