FETA's spin

I would take issue with the criticism levelled by Councillor Tony Martin, convener of the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA), at the fairly balanced article by Martin Day and William Walker on the quangos that run transport in Scotland (Letters, 14 November).

Of course, one would expect the FETA convener to defend his bridgemaster and staff, but to say that FETA is ahead of the game in corrosion prevention and has acted in an exemplary manner in this regard, when the bridge faces premature closure due to corrosion in the main suspension cables, is a bit rich.

I have observed FETA's performance at first hand and, in particular at the public inquiry into the proposed increase to the tolls in 2004, and the bridgemaster and his staff were exemplary in their PR presentations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I have watched Cllr Martin and other FETA council members sit spellbound by the spin of the bridge staff, which, I have to admit, is pretty impressive - would that the cables were spun so well.

However, as someone who has spent a lifetime in engineering, I, like Mr Walker, am not fooled by the FETA spin, and when I travel across the bridge and see the contractors making the rusty main suspension cables watertight as a first step in the dehumidification process, it does not suggest to me that the maintenance over the past 40-odd years has been exemplary.

When, at the 2004 public inquiry, FETA produced what it described as a meticulously costed 14-year look ahead, the amount allocated for work on the main cables was just over 1 per cent of the 150 million budget.

TOM MINOGUE, Scottish spokesman, National Alliance Against Tolls, Dunfermline, Fife

Russell Imrie, the chairman of SESTRAN, (Letters, 14 November) is wrong in his assertion that his organisation is not a quango. The acronym may originally have referred to a "non-government organisation", but more commonly it is a "quasi-autonomous national government organisation". The UK government's 1997 definition of a quango was "a body which has a role in the processes of national government, but is not a government department or part of one, and which accordingly operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm's length from ministers".

According to the Scottish Government website, regional transport partnerships such as SESTRAN are "independent bodies". SESTRAN is a quango (and so perhaps it should be checking its fire defences in advance of any Scottish Government bonfire).

R J RITCHIE, Cecil Street, Stirling