Forth Bridges Forum - Meeting 44 - Minutes - 26 July 2022

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  • Stewart Leggett (SL) Chair - Transport Scotland
  • Mike Dineen (MD) - Transport Scotland
  • John Andrew (JA) - ICE Consultant / Transport Scotland
  • Karen Stewart (KS) - Forth Bridges Area Tourism Strategy Manager     
  • Miles Oglethorpe (MO) - Historic Environment Scotland
  • Ken Gourlay (KG) - Fife Council
  • Daisy Narayanan (DN) - City of Edinburgh Council
  • Joanna Noble (JN) - Network Rail
  • Stewart Lothian (SLO) - Network Rail
  • Chris Waite (CW) - BEAR Scotland     
  • John Russell (JR) - BEAR Scotland
  • Gillian Laurie (GL) - Secretariat - BEAR Scotland

Welcome and introductions

Stewart Leggett welcomed all to meeting 44 of the Forth Bridges Forum.

Apologies, Minutes of Previous Meeting and Actions

Apologies received from:

  • Scott Lees
  • Mark Dunlop
  • Keavy O’Neill - Transport Scotland
  • Caroline Warburton – Visit Scotland
  • Andy Thompson – BEAR Scotland
  • Sarah Duignan – Network Rail
  • Elin Williamson, Paul Lawrence – CEC

Minutes of previous meeting held on 26 April 2022 were agreed and subsequently published.

Action points were reviewed and updated as follows: 

  • Action 40.1 - Replacement of banners in car park at FRB – Complete
  • Action 42.6 - Existing FBF subscribers invited to resubscribe – Complete
  • Action 43.5 – WH Coordinator MOU – Ongoing – See item 4.1
  • Action 43.10 – FBF ministerial briefing – Ongoing

Tourism Update – Update by KS

Forth Bridges website – Tender awarded to The Designline Creative. Meeting took place in June with further meeting planned for 29th July to consider site map.    

Social media update – Upwards trend on both Facebook and Instagram audience reach.  Arial photos and cruise ships posts proving most popular.

Signage strategy: Paul Hogarth appointed consultant and contractor. Phase one will progress with signage for NQ, SQ and on FRB following planning permission approval.  Signs will include QR code link to FBF website which will link to the Forth Bridges walking trail.  KS advised the local community is being consulted on the replacement of the panel boards and welcomes feedback and further ideas. UNESCO has been consulted on sign design.  Panel designs shared with group.

SL asked for feedback around visitor numbers this year compared to 2020 and 2021.  KS advised businesses continue to be stretched for staff but generally good positive feedback from businesses recovering from pandemic visitor levels.  NQ Light tower is proving popular and the return of cruise ships have increased visitor numbers. 

World Heritage Management Group Update – Update by MO

Meeting has been arranged with Network Rail to discuss the appointment of a World Heritage Coordinator and the development of Memorandum of Understanding formalising HES support for the Forum. The management plan refresh will progress following WH coordinator post fill.  Target for WH Coordinator role has been passed, new target October 2022 in time for UNESCO periodic reporting requirements in Nov 2022.

Infrastructure group has been set up following K Giblett’s letter. The aim of this group is to identify issues and ways World Heritage can work for the area to deliver items from the World Heritage management plan e.g. integrated public transport. The next infrastructure group meeting will be held late Sept/early Oct.

Recent SQ ‘walk around’ meeting on cultural services which included a visit to SQ museum was positive and worthwhile. KS attended.

Laura Davis, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will be in Edinburgh on 15th August. MO and HES’s new Head of World Heritage, James Bruhn, will take her out to visit the Bridges and the CEC.

Forth Bridges Forum Update – Update by MD

The first, post pandemic, Forth Bridges public meeting was held on Tuesday 14th June 2022. The meeting was positive, well received and well organised. Tickets were booked through Eventbrite to manage numbers with 24 attendees on the night. Main question/comment was on parking issues within South Queensferry.  Presence from CEC would have been helpful to respond to these points. DN raised that CEC have started more dialogue with QDCC and will take back to Paul Lawrence the suggestion of having CEC presence at future forum public meetings. SL added that he would be happy to learn of CEC’s engagement with QDCC and welcomes a presence at future public meetings if possible. JN added that Network Rail’s experience of meeting local communities the main issue is around parking and the concerns that encouraging more visitors to the area will contribute to the problem.

SL asked what is currently on the Forth Bridges website to encourage public transport. SL asked that these alternative ways to travel to the bridges are promoted. JN added that there is a joint ticketing proposal for Forth Bridge experience ticket holders to receive discount on Scotrail services. Further opportunities can be explored with Lothian buses and tour buses. Marketing opportunities around this.

MO added the engagement with QDCC is a good example of how local communities’ knowledge can highlight specific issues.  MO shared QDCC car parking desktop study, GL will forward to group.   

MO raised BEAR Scotland’s compound at FRB car park, local community feels that the compound (including the prominent steelwork within it) is unsightly and wishes it relocated. JR explained that it this a working compound, the steelwork platform is for cable access. BEAR is short on space but are, however, looking at options for this platform within the compound and a tidy up of the area. Relocating compound to north-west car park area not suitable as this area is often used for short term contracts and used by tour buses.

Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge – Update by CW

Queensferry Crossing - Press release issued on cleaning QC cables to mitigate ice accretion. Machine developed to clean all cables commencing 8th August and will take approx.12 weeks. Speed limit will be reduced to 50mph out with peak times.

FRB viaduct resurfacing and waterproofing is complete, moving onto north viaduct with expected completion 18 October. Following this FRB could be used as a diversion route in event of QC closure. 

FRB underdeck access walkways refurbishment and replacement works continuing.  Much of the steel is being recycled. 

FRB Hanger replacement trials, one trial has been completed.  Installed temporary jacking equipment as contingency for rope failure.

FRB replacement of side tower and lateral thrust bearings will start Sept.  No significant impact on traffic.

BEAR Scotland planning is progressing for Doors Open Day on Sat 24 September. This will include offering minibus tours over FRB for members of the public, each trip will lasting an hour.  Donations will be requested to SSPCA, BEAR Scotland’s chosen charity for 2022. The Contact and Education Centre will be used to offer some educational activities for children and hoping FB merchandise can be sold to raise money for SSPCA.  This will take place on the same weekend as the Barnardo’s Your View event and it is hoped that both events may compliment each other.  Aiming to advertise this event within next 2 weeks. 

Communications Group – Update by CW

Forth Bridges website – KS provided update, see item 3.1

Quarterly website statistics show spike in May 2022 due to go live of HADECS speed cameras.  SL added HADECS mailbox low therefore showing good compliance.

GL shared that enquiries via FBF mailbox remain low, 16 received since 1 April.

SL advised autumn for introduction of services for CAV Forth.  CW advised potential flagged media event end August, details to be confirmed.  SL asked MD to keep people informed of project.    

Network Rail Update

North viaduct repainting and refurbishment works are ongoing.

The hoist on the North Cantilever has been replaced offering a smoother journey experience to the tower top.

JN updated the group on the Forth Bridge Experience. Revised design planning consent was approved end June. Progressing with procurement for bridge work and reception hub. Both procurement tenders due back end of August. Business case will be presented to Transport Scotland later this year. JN welcomes input from forum members especially on how to benchmark following the opening of experience. Elin Williamson, Caroline Warburton and KS are most likely to be involved.

Action: Forum members, (EW, CW and KS) pass to JN benchmark suggestions particularly on tourism, health of businesses

Any other business

MO shared that 2022 is the 50th anniversary of UNESCO.  Asked forum members to identify events at World Heritage sites that may be branded with UNESCO logo.  Barnardo’s event may be branded with UNESCO.

Next forum meeting on 25th October, SL asked if possible, make a hybrid meeting but preference is in person. 

Date of next meeting – 25 October 2022

Published Date 1 Nov 2022 Type Mode of transport