Scottish Government must reverse bridge cuts in upcoming budget

The Scottish Government has been urged to properly fund the Forth Road Bridge when it announces its budget next week.

The vital structure has been closed for a week after cracks were found, prompting travel chaos across the east of Scotland and damaging businesses.

It has since emerged that the budget for the bridge between Edinburgh and Fife has been slashed by 65 per cent in recent years.

Today, at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said – with more money for capital spending having been announced by Chancellor George Osborne – the SNP had to now ensure the bridge was properly funded.

Wednesday’s budget, she added, would be the perfect opportunity for finance secretary John Swinney to do just that.

Ruth also challenged the First Minister on whether or not the bridge would be accessible to all vehicles when it reopens in early January, after senior engineers suggested it may no longer be able to take heavy goods vehicles.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was her “full intention” for the bridge to reopen “as normal” to all vehicles.

 

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“The priority clearly must be to ensure the bridge is fixed as soon as possible and that any problems are addressed in full.

“But the SNP cannot avoid the fact the budget for the Forth Road Bridge has been hammered in recent years.

“It’s clear the authorities gambled that the old bridge could be patched up until the new one was ready.

“Now we know that gamble has failed.

“Two weeks ago the Chancellor announced a significant increase in capital expenditure for Scotland.

“The money is there, and the Scottish Government must now commit to properly funding the Forth Road Bridge to ensure this chaos is never repeated again.

“It’s also essential Nicola Sturgeon gives businesses the commitment they are looking for that this vital route will be reopened in full to all vehicles at the beginning of January.”