Council wants to keep control of new Forth bridge

The new bridge will see the end of the Forth Estuary Transport Authority. Picture: Complimentary
The new bridge will see the end of the Forth Estuary Transport Authority. Picture: Complimentary
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COUNCILLORS must continue to help run the Forth Road Bridge which is to be transferred to the private sector, the capital’s transport convener told MSPs today.

Lesley Hinds said plans to transfer control of the crossing to a firm would end community representation through elected politicians.

The call follows Edinburgh City Council raising “significant concerns” about proposals to scrap the involvement of councillors when the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta), which runs the bridge, is scrapped under draft legislation.

Feta is run by councillors from local authorities around the bridge, such as Edinburgh and Fife, but it is due to be replaced by an operating company which would also run the Forth Replacement Crossing when it opens in 2016.

Instead, council officials will sit on the new Forth Bridges Forum, which also includes heritage and tourism groups, and is run by the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency. Edinburgh City Council said the body should also include councillors.

Ms Hinds told Holyrood’s infrastructure and capital investment committee that the continued involvement of councillors would give “added impetus in representing the local community.”

She added that the iconic status of the bridge meant it was extremely important to the Edinburgh economy for tourism.

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The Forth Road Bridge bill provides a number of assurances. The associated Forth bridge operating company contract, will stipulate community engagement requirements.”

• The council has also called for a “formal commitment” that ministers will reimburse the cost of repairs and compensation claims associated with Feta’s building of the M9 spur extension - now renamed M90 - south of the Forth Road Bridge, which could reach £4.4 million.

However, transport minister Keith Brown told MSPs: “We have made it quite clear we will be picking up all liabilities.”

The Transport Scotland spokeswoman confirmed: “All Feta’s liabilities would transfer to Scottish ministers.”