A PLANNED parade which would have seen thousands of people cross the Forth Road Bridge has been axed – because organisers feared windy conditions could jeopardise people’s safety.
The daylight procession would have provided a centrepiece to the structure’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
But higher than expected costs and safety concerns raised by Police Scotland have been cited as key reasons for axing the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
An estimated 12,500 spectators would have gathered on the bridge’s northbound carriageway to watch a parade of massed pipes and drums, vintage vehicles and community floats on September 7 next year – a Sunday morning – under original plans.
The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) board has confirmed it voted to investigate alternative options at a meeting last week.
FETA board member and Almond Ward Councillor Lindsay Paterson said people were disappointed at the decision to abandon the daytime parade.
She said: “The message was fairly clear from the police and other authorities – that it wouldn’t be a good idea to close the bridge during the daytime. We had to take that into account.
“Certainly on the board itself, there were a couple of us that had reservations about a daytime closure anyway.”
Of a replacement event, she said “it has to be a real occasion”, adding: “We have to decide next how we can progress that.”
The parade, which had been billed as a key part of next year’s Forth Bridges Festival, would have meant closing the bridge to traffic in both directions for about five hours.
A report by chief engineer and bridgemaster Barry Colford warned the “impact of cancellation would be considerable”. He also said the risk of calling the event off due to high winds was “fairly significant” – an assertion critics are likely to seize on when demanding answers as to why the plans were announced in the first place.
Alternative options to replace the parade could include a night-time torchlit procession across the bridge limited to 1000 people.
Queensferry Ambition project manager Diane Brown said hosting a parade at nearby Hopetoun House was also being discussed.
The festival will still include a fireworks display, and 2000 people will get the chance to climb to the top of the road bridge.
A FETA spokesman said: “We are confident of staging an event that will be a fitting celebration of the bridge’s anniversary.”