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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 12:55 GMT
Bridge charge deal seems nearer
Skye Bridge tolls sign
The crossing tolls have caused fierce opposition over nine years
Speculation is growing that a deal to end tolls on the Skye Bridge is imminent.

Ministers promised that an agreement would be in place to buy out the private operator's toll contract by the end of this year.

The first private finance initiative in Scotland has been a nine-year problem for ministers, but now there are strong indications they are set to act.

Some objectors have gone to jail for refusing to pay the charges.

Critics voiced fierce hostility to how the crossing was paid for even before it opened.

They were angry that an American bank paid for the construction in return for the right to charge the highest bridge tolls in Europe.

The whole community has been waiting nine years for this, let us hope that the minister makes the announcement soon
Andy Anderson
Skye and Kyle Against Tolls
Special deals for regular users failed to curb the protests. Campaigners claim that more than 33m in tolls has been handed over - far more than the bridge cost to build.

Ministers insist no deal has yet been done, but they stress they are still committed to making sure that by the end of this month driving over the sea to Skye will be free.

Andy Anderson, general secretary of the Skye and Kyle Against Tolls, said: "We have been campaigning against the toll since the bridge opened in October 1995.

"The whole community has been waiting nine years for this, let us hope that the minister makes the announcement soon."

Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace in June revealed to the Scottish Parliament details of the proposed timescale for axing the charges.

Campaigner Robbie the Pict called for tolls to be scrapped immediately.


SEE ALSO:
Motorists attack bridge toll rise
07 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Skye Bridge tolls to be abolished
03 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Bridge protesters renewing fight
03 May 04 |  Scotland
Toll removal 'threatens ferries'
12 Jan 04 |  Scotland
Skye tolls set to be scrapped
30 Oct 03 |  Scotland
Skye toll complaint goes to fiscal
31 Jul 03 |  Scotland


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