Friday, 28 December 2012

New film tells important story of Skye Bridge anti-toll protests

28 Dec 2012 

The successful campaign against tolls on the Skye Bridge is the subject of a BBC Alba film to be broadcast on New Year’s Day.

The media co-op film ‘An Drochaid/The Bridge Rising’ highlights once again the extortionate rip-off of the Private Finance Initiative – the Skye Bridge being the first UK PFI project.

Former Dingwall Procurator Fiscal David Hingston, who prosecuted the protesters who refused to pay tolls, is interviewed, saying: “PFI, in my personal opinion, is a fraud upon the public. It’s an abuse of government. The bridge should have been paid for out of public funds.”

Media co-op describes the documentary as an “epic, feel-good story of a modern rebellion” that is also a “bittersweet tale of passion, ego, and financial skulduggery.” They cite figures showing the total £25m of private investment cost taxpayers and road-users more than £74m.

It features almost all the key players including Skye and Kyle Against Tolls (SKAT) protesters, politicians, the bridge engineer, police and PF. However, Bank of America, the bridge owners before the 2004 buy-out by the then Scottish Executive, declined to take part. 

Producer Louise Scott said the film tells of “a successful uprising of a community against a bank, a rebellion against the idea of making private profit from public works.” A cinema length version is to follow.

Mischief making, the fun of days in court (“like going to the Shinty Cup final”) and a march across the bridge with beer barrels of ‘Extortion Ale’, are interspersed with recollections from some of the well known SKAT characters, including Robbie the Pict and former NUPE (UNISON’s predecessor union) official Andy Anderson, along with politicians such as former Scottish Office minister Lord James Douglas Hamilton, former Labour minister Brian Wilson and the former Liberal Democrat MSP John Farquhar Munro.

And it reveals that former Skye police sergeant Dennis Hyndman - who arrested his neighbours when they refused to pay the toll - was a secret supporter of the anti-toll campaign. “If I hadn't been a police officer I would have been down there protesting along with the rest of them."

The film will be shown on BBC Alba at 8.05pm on Tuesday 1 January 2013, repeated on Sunday 6 January at 8.30pm. Short trailer here Read more in reports in The Herald and Third Force News.

UNISON Scotland reports on PFI and PPP projects, including the Skye Bridge, are here.


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