Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Jim and Alex - please kiss and make up

In Scottish Questions today I challenged the Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy to reach an agreement with Alex Salmond on the funding of the replacement Forth Road Bridge. This saga has been dragging on for too long and is in danger of affecting investment and jobs.

The UK Government has accepted in principle their responsibility to assist yet have not offered real, new money - only funds that were already coming to Scotland. The SNP also need to explore all methods of paying for the crossing instead of simply blaming London. They haven't raised a single penny from their Scottish Futures Trust for the bridge.

I fear that Alex Salmond and Jim Murphy are letting their political differences get in the way of finding a solution to this vital project for Scotland. Their stubbornness is damaging.

Here's the extract from Scottish Questions:
River Forth (New Crossing)
6. Willie Rennie (Dunfermline and West Fife) (LD): What the outcomes were of his recent discussions with the Chief Secretary of the Treasury and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Executive on funding for the construction of a new crossing over the River Forth.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Jim Murphy): I want to see the new crossing over the River Forth built. We had a constructive meeting on 4 March and identified a number of ways of dealing with the funding of a new bridge.

Willie Rennie: I thank the Scottish Secretary for that answer. People in Fife are getting exasperated by the failure of the Scottish Executive and the UK Government to reach an agreement on this. The £1 billion that has been offered is not new money, and not a single penny has been raised by the Scottish Government to pay for this bridge. I know that the Scottish Secretary and the First Minister aren't best buddies, but can they please kiss and make up and sort out this problem before it has an effect on Scottish jobs and Scottish investment?

Mr. Murphy: I know that the hon. Gentleman has been campaigning for this bridge for some time, as have my hon. Friend the Member for Glenrothes (Lindsay Roy) and others in Fife. We had that meeting, and we offered a package of support of up to £1 billion for the new Forth road crossing, including £500 million as consequentials from Crossrail. I am disappointed, and I think all of Scotland will be disappointed, that the Scottish Government at the moment refuse to accept this offer of unprecedented support for this Forth crossing, but despite the opposition, the offer still lies on the table.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps you could explain why this bridge will cost 2 1/2 billion when the last one cost £19 million (£320 M in today's money), let alone why it is impossible to cut a tunnel at £7 m per km as the Norwegians have been doing for years?