06 January 2009

Another fine mess ...

Financing the new Forth road crossing? It's a bit of a mystery.

Why would Scottish Ministers write to the Treasury, asking the latter to do them a favour (by allowing the Scottish administration to draw on future financial allocations in order to finance the new bridge)? Did they not anticipate that UK Ministers would take a certain amount of pleasure in pointing out the unprecedented nature of such a request and giving it the old heave-ho?

Furthermore, is this not the kind of case where Scottish officials make quiet contact with their Treasury counterparts in advance of any Ministerial approach in order to see how the land lies? Or were Scottish Ministers so desperate to avoid a whacking great hole in their transport announcement that they jumped the gun regardless?

Ideally, the financing should have been sorted out before the announcement. The prospect of bouncing the Treasury into agreement was never going to be realised.

Now we have a mess. Either all sorts of other capital investment is postponed or the SNP swallows its pride over PPP.

1 comment:

Green_Anorak said...

Nah, there's no mess: fix the existing bridge at a cost of GBP11m and forget the second bridge idea. The bridgemaster himself was quoted in August last year saying he was 'highly confident' that the corrosion in the main cable can be stopped (Sunday Herald, 10 August 2008). Problem solved; GBP 1.89 billion saved for investing in schools & hospitals.

As to why Holyrood approached Westminster for the funding: Swinney knew he'd get a knock-back and thought he could use it for another 'look at Westminster ignoring the wishes of Scotland' story. Might work too, depending on whether Labour make the right points in their debate on the subject next week.