Mackay pledges full disclosure on bridge repairs

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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Transport minister Derek MacKay has agreed to release all documents about maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge after opposition parties demanded “full transparency” on when the government became aware of the need for urgent repairs.

Mr Mackay said he would “show a full account of events which will prove that the Scottish government has taken the right decisions” about the closure of the crossing, which is due to reopen in the New Year.

Labour welcomed Mr Mackay’s commitment to release all the documents related to when ministers first became aware of pressure on the bridge’s truss end links – one of which has since cracked, causing the closure.

However, Mr Mackay remained under pressure to state when the information would be made available to the public, as Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Alex Rowley called for it to be released as a “matter of urgency”.

In a letter to Mr Mackay, Fife MSP Mr Rowley asked the minister to confirm when he would release the information and the “manner in which it will be made available to the public”.

The demand for full disclosure came after leaked emails showed government officials were told of the need for urgent repairs to the bridge in February.

Chief engineer Barry Colford ordered restrictions on the passage of abnormal loads weighing more than 150 tonnes after analysis of the loading pressure on the bridge’s truss end links.

Mr Mackay also said that he believed his job was secure and stated that he would not resist an official inquiry into the closure of the crossing, when he was asked about the issue on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

He said: “Well, I believe it is because I’ve been working very hard,

“I’m doing my best and I will ensure that we open that bridge and I’ll answer any question asked of me and I know that we will show a full account of events, which will prove that the Scottish Government has taken the right decisions.”

The minister also accused Labour of deliberately “twisting the facts” over maintenance of the bridge, as he confirmed the documents related to it would be made available.

Mr Mackay added: “I’ll be open, accountable and transparent to anybody on this issue of the closure, but you know I’ve come to the conclusion that Labour are deliberately misinterpreting and twisting the facts for their own petty, party political gain and I find that quite unacceptable.

“I don’t fear scrutiny at all, and I don’t fear any inquiry, in fact I welcome it. What I do have concerns about though is just how the Labour Party are twisting the issue for their own gain.”