Monday, 5 January 2009

Over the sea to Fife ...

Have a look at this:

The SNP Scottish Government put forward a funding proposal for the new Forth Bridge. The proposal is to bring forward Scottish capital spend to build the bridge, thereby spreading the cost over a larger number of years in order to protect other capital investment projects like building schools and hospitals.

If the Scottish Government was able to borrow, like other administrations - including councils, the problem wouldn't occur.

Labour's answer - use PFI (like the Skye Bridge)except that the Treasury pointed out that PFI "would not solve the budgeting problem if the scheme was classified as public spending" which all PFI now will be thanks to a change in accounting rules. Labour's position, as espoused by the sage David Whitton is that the Scottish Government should "look at PPP/PFI projects, but of course they are ideologically opposed to doing that." Labour's London Ministers say PFI wouldn't solve the problem, David Whitton says it doesn't matter whether it solves the problem, just do it anyway.

Meanwhile Gordon Brown is suggesting that bringing forward capital spend, as the Scottish Government wants to do, would help bring us through recession more quickly. So why is his Chancellor denying Scotland the opportunity? Darling, in fact, said "that's something that we simply don't do."

Labour in lack of coherent thinking shock! For a piece of real genius, though, you have to look no further than Des McNulty's interview on Good Morning Scotland on 10 December 2008:

DES McNULTY: Well I think there's a variety of methods that could be looked at, you know, there have been similar bridges built through conventional procurement methods. There have been bridges built through the PPP methodology…

GARY ROBERTSON: Presumably you wouldn't just want to see a situation as we saw on the Skye Bridge, for instance.

DES McNULTY: Well, no, I don't think that – that would be the best approach, although I think the government, in taking the approach they did to removing the tolls from the existing Forth Bridge has actually taken away a particular funding model that has been used in the past, so…

GARY ROBERTSON: …So would Labour restore those tolls?

DES McNULTY: No, I'm not saying that, but I think what the SNP government has done is, it's narrowed its options, and one of the things that emerged –

GARY ROBERTSON: …Well, your options would be narrowed as well if you're not committed to returning them, wouldn't they?

DES McNULTY: Well, I think either the SNP has actually restricted its options – its policy approach… I mean, what's paradoxical –

GARY ROBERTSON: Not to keep your options open? To be clear, to keep your options open, you would keep the option of returning the tolls, then.

DES McNULTY: No, what I said is we would look at all – all possible options.

So that'll be all possible options except the ones that they don't want to talk about ...

Why not have tolls on bridges? Well, they're part of the road network so the real question is "do you want tolls on Scotland's roads?" There's a debate to be had there - I'd be on the side of toll-free roads - but it's not the debate that Labour wants to face up to.

Mind how you go!


Yousuf Hamid said...

So why aren't the SNP using the cheap, fair, brand spanking new and utterly fantastic Scottish Futures Trust?

Jim said...

The thought that Des MacNulty might be even remotely involved in a project as big as the new bridge frightens me.