- Scott Lees (SL) Vice Chair - Transport Scotland
- Michael Dineen (MD) - Transport Scotland
- John Andrew (JA) - ICE Consultant/Transport Scotland
- Sarah Duignan (SD) - Network Rail
- Caroline Warburton (CWar) - Visit Scotland
- Miles Oglethorpe (MO) - HES
- Karen Stewart (KS) - Forth Bridges Area Tourism Strategy Manager
- Tommy Deans (TD) - BEAR Scotland
- Joanna Buggy (JB) - BEAR Scotland
- Gillian Laurie (GL) Secretariat - BEAR Scotland
Welcome & Introductions
SL welcomed all attendees to Meeting 40 of the Forth Bridges Forum. Introductions were done.
Apologies, Minutes of Previous Meeting and Actions
Apologies received from:
- Hugh Gillies - Transport Scotland
- Mark Dunlop - Transport Scotland
- Keavy O'Neill - Transport Scotland
- Lawrence Shackman - Transport Scotland
- Derek Christie - Network Rail
- Andy Thompson - BEAR Scotland
- Chris Waite - BEAR Scotland
- Elin Williamson - City of Edinburgh Council
- G Malcolm - West Lothian Council
- K Gourlay - Fife Council
- R Jones - HES
Minutes of previous meeting held on 27 April 2021 were agreed and subsequently published.
Action points were reviewed and updated as follows:
- Action 21.2 - Events Planner - Open action
- Action 36.4 - Zip Line Event - Ongoing
- Action 37.1 - WH Co-ordinator - Ongoing
- Action 37.3 - Bridges Lighting Proposal - On hold
- Action 37.6 - FB Website - Ongoing
- Action 38.1 - Public Meetings - Ongoing
- Action 38.2 - WLC Data Analysis report - Closed
- Action 36.4 - Zipline event - CW met with Princes Trust. Trust seeking event sponsors with potential event date - May 2022
- Action 37.3 - Lighting Proposal - Remove from agenda until funds available
- Action 37.6 - Forth Bridges Website - See item 8.2
- Action 38.1 - Public meeting options - See item 6.1
COVID-19 restrictions continue to impact services we all provide. These impacts are being monitored.
Tourism Update - Update by KS and CWar
KS continues to virtually attend community council meetings and other heritage and interest groups.
Fife Council working on local area plan for North Queensferry with workshops being held in the community centre from August.
Queensferry High street refurbishment due to start Sept 2021. Queensferry Ferry Fair will be held on Sat 7th August but very restricted scaled down event. Queensferry Museum remains closed and local businesses still affected by covid restrictions.
Forth Bridges Tourism Group are releasing funds for phase one of the Tourism Signage strategy. This would include 16 signs. KS engaging with councils and BEAR for the upkeep/maintenance of the signs. JA asked that Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company is considered for the signs, a charity that BEAR Scotland supports. MD added that the signs are very specialised but will ensure Scotland’s Bravest are considered.
UNESCO trail will be launched to encourage physical visits, businesses will work towards green tourism certification.
CWar advised that 2021 themed year is Year of Coast and Waters and 2022 the Year of Stories with toolkits available.
Visit Scotland’s Domestic campaign ongoing – Now is your Time, runs throughout the summer. Differing guidance north and south of the border has been difficult for visitors and the tourism sector. The sector continues to struggle due to lack of international visitors. International campaign will be launched in September, Forth Bridge may feature within this campaign.
World Heritage Management Group Update - Update by MO
Appointment of World Heritage Coordinator is not progressing as had hoped. This post is key to the Management Plan refresh. SD will seek update from Network Rail and report back to MO.
Other WH sites - Liverpool struck off, Stonehenge tunnel overturned. Welsh Slate successfully inscribed. HES assisting Flow Country application.
A Forth Bridge Records/Collections group has been formed. Good work already underway.
Bank of Scotland polymer notes feature Forth Bridge with commemorative notes featuring Queensferry Crossing. Discussion followed around future of Scottish bank notes as Clydesdale Bank have been taken over.
Action - SD seek WH Coordinator update from Network Rail and report back to MO
Forth Bridges Forum
Forth Bridges Forum Newsletter was distributed in July 2021 while restrictions continue to prevent public meetings. JB added that a newsletter is good to share information but public meetings, when they can happen, are a good opportunity for the public to feedback and feel they are being heard.
Action - Comms Group decide on next newsletter content or discuss potential for holding public meeting
SL asked about repairs to Jacob’s ladder steps and if there may be potential to help. KS advised this work has already been undertaken by CEC.
JB added that BEAR Scotland recently worked with Plastics Free Fife at St Margaret’s Marsh and was well received and shared on social media.
MD advised the fundraising item had been added to the agenda pre-covid. When restrictions allow, we will promote fundraising Opportunities.
Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge Update - Update by TD
FRB Expansion Joint Replacement project ongoing, due for completion October 2021. West footpath currently closed until end August then East footpath will be closed for four weeks. Buses and taxis coping well with current contraflow.
Queensferry Crossing - BEAR Scotland continue to work with Transport Scotland on ice accretion solutions. SL advised that lab trials to be undertaken.
QC - TD advised cable cleaning will be undertaken, overhead works with no disruption to traffic.
BEAR Scotland employed specialists to monitor noise levels and impacts on Nesting Terns on Longcraig Island. This story received positive reaction on social media.
Preparation work for the CAV trial continues.
Public toilets are Queensferry viewpoint are now open with an enhanced cleaning regime in place for next few weeks. Minor problems with toilets have been experienced and so BEAR will continue to monitor.
JB added that we, BEAR Scotland, have received recent correspondence on the variable speed limits on Queensferry Crossing. TS have asked that these are directed to Traffic Scotland.
Communications Group - Update by JB
Impossible Engineering documentary filming took place in June. This will be shown on The Discovery Channel, broadcast dates will be shared.
Forth Bridges Website - CW sent development brief to HG and SL. A push towards greater tourism and visitor focus on the three bridges. Three options:
- Retain current website but drive content more towards tourism. Decision required for maintenance and content responsibility.
- Completely new website - this will be a large undertaking of resources and investment.
- Redevelop page templates allowing mobile view, improved navigation. This option also requires significant investment.
JB advised option 3 may be best option and that budget has to be agreed to refine the brief. Visit Scotland has providers that we would intend to work with.
Action - SL and MD look at available budget and provide feedback
Action - Detail on who will manage the website going forward from a strategy, content and technical perspective (including driving traffic to it such as a social media focus) – CW & KS
Web analysis report for Q2 was reviewed, notable spike in April related to a police incident.
GL advised only nine emails received via FBF enquiries mailbox, of which 7 were for BEAR Scotland, 1 HES, 1 Network Rail.
Network Rail Update - SD provided an update
Forth Bridge Experience - Proposal application notice will be submitted today with changes to reception hub building relocated to the east of the bridge. Application submitted today, followed by public engagement early to mid Sept. All feedback will be considered then planning application will be submitted.
MO raised that any changes on the structure will have to be submitted to UNESCO. SD will confirm any changes with MO.
KS asked about the lighting on Forth Bridge as this has been raised by local residents. SD advised funding required so this is not likely to progress for a few years.
MD advised order will be placed for telescope soon. The handrail at viewing platform may obstruct the view with the lower telescope so this is being assessed.
The Burryman statue is under review.
MD advised that the canvases on fence at BEAR compound will be replaced with long banners. Content currently being considered.
Action - MD to progress with canvas/banner replacement
Education Programme - SL planning to meet E Barrie to discuss restart of Education programme.
MO reminded all that UNESCO logo may be utilised on educational materials and shared logo with BEAR.
Date of next meeting: 26 October 2021