- Jonny Moran (JM) - Transport Scotland
- John Andrew (JA) - Transport Scotland
- Karen Stewart (KS) - FB Area Tourism Strategy Manager
- Miles Oglethorpe (MO) - Historic Environment Scotland
- Joanna Buggy (JB) - BEAR Scotland
- Chris Tracey (CT) - BEAR Scotland
- Gillian Laurie (GL) - Secretariat - BEAR Scotland
- Neil Christison (NC) - Visit Scotland
- John Mitchell (JMi) - Fife Council
- Sarah Duignan (SD) - Network Rail
- Stewart Lothian (SL) - Network Rail
- Ruth White (RW) - Online - City of Edinburgh Council
Welcome & Introductions
- JM welcomed all to meeting 47 of the Forth Bridges Forum.
- Introductions complete.
Apologies, Minutes of Previous Meeting and Actions
Apologies received from:
- Stewart Leggett - Transport Scotland
- Mercy Muthegu - Transport Scotland
- Mark Dunlop - Transport Scotland
- Keavy O’Neill - Transport Scotland
- Chris Waite - BEAR Scotland
- Jo Noble - Network Rail
- Paul Lawrence - Network Rail
- Elin Willamson - City of Edinburgh Council
- James Bruhn - Historic Environment Scotland
Minutes of previous meeting held on 24 January 2023 were agreed and subsequently published. Action points were reviewed and updated as follows:
- Action 43.5 – WH Coordinator MOU - Ongoing
- Action 43.10 – FBF ministerial briefing - Ongoing
- Action 45.5.2 – Letter for new residents by CEC - Closed
The ministerial briefing paper has not yet been delivered due to the rescheduling of the Education Programme relaunch. JA to review this action and revise.
JB advised letter has been issued to residents and will continue to hand deliver as more residents move in.
Tourism Update - Update by KS
Procurement started for next stage of the signage strategy focussed on fingerpost signs. KS will liaise with BEAR for suitable sites directing visitors to FRB footpath.
Viewpoint signage - JA reviewing proposal for brown tourist signs.
Good engagement with social media. Spikes on website due to weather events
KS requested photos on King Charles at the Forth Bridges are passed to her to share on social media.
Action - Seek and pass photos of King Charles in FB area to KS
Tourism Business event held on 12 April at Hawes Inn. 23 businesses attended. Generally positive meeting although recruitment remains a challenge. Two local businesses recently closed but new businesses opening and some refurbishments ongoing.
Cruise season has begun, 34 ships due to visit. QDCC has worked with CEC to ensure call down system is in operation reducing the need for car park closures. On 17 May, Cruise Forth have a crew familiarisation event planned.
Marketing subgroup met w/c 17 Requirement for social media cover over Summer.
Recent coverage in press for Forth Bridges Trail.
North Queensferry public toilets are now open.
Save the Albert Hotel group hoping for Community buy out.
Forth Bridges Writer in Residence, Barbara Henderson’s The Rivet Boy is published. Barbara has been visiting schools and attending Edinburgh Book Festival. Potential next book is Stories of Steel.
Panoramic Camera remains out of order. Options to be reviewed.
Action - JA/JM Review options for panoramic camera on CEC
NC advised partnership has been launched with Visit Scotland and LNER. NC will liaise with KS to review how Forth Bridges can benefit.
World Heritage Management Group Update - Update by MO
Thanks to Network Rail, funding for post combining Tourism and World Heritage is confirmed with financial contribution from HES and other forum partners(?)
MO explained that the need for an MoU defining the relationship between HES and the Forum (and the associated funding) needs to be reviewed in the context of the imminent appointment of a World Heritage and Tourism Coordinator for the Forth Bridge. He and James Bruhn will take this forward.
Management Plan refresh will be first task for the WH Coordinator. This will be an opportunity to embrace the valuable contribution form QDCC and NQCC. MO added that the forum should revisit engagement with local community councils.
HES Board meeting early October, MO hoping to arrange trip to Forth Bridge. TS and BEAR happy to help if required.
Forth Bridges Forum Update
Terms of Reference for the Forum and Forum subgroups will be reviewed. JA/JM to undertake an initial review before discussion with Forum members. Aim is to revisit and ensure ToR reflect each organisation’s needs and commitment. All members to pass corporate documents relating to Forum to GL.
Action - Pass relevant documents to GL - ALL
Action - JM and JA to review Terms of Reference and refresh as required
Education launch Wed 3 May 2023. Draft release prepared. Partners to retweet.
Forth Bridges Forum public meeting was held 6 December 2022, only 11 attendees. Newsletter sent to subscribers and forum stakeholders on 28 February 2023, very little engagement with newsletter with only 24 read. Value of both discussed. Agree public meetings should continue but only if relevant information to share. JM suggested issuing an update newsletter by end of May thereafter discontinuing the newsletter.
Action - Send newsletter updates to GL by mid May
BEAR will arrange a separate meeting with QDCC when information can be shared on automatic barriers.
Action - BEAR arrange barriers update meeting with QDCC
CAVForth Autonomous Bus service commences 15 May. Media launch on 11 May, stakeholder event 12 May. Public event 13 May. This is the first autonomous bus service in the UK.
Telescope is 90% complete. Survey to be undertaken by BEAR? Ambassador Living consulted for view limiters.
Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge - Update by CT
Forth Road Bridge - underdeck works should be complete within the next few weeks. Minimal impact to carriageways.
Pier work programme pushed back to avoid CAV launch.
Terns will return to Long Craig island on or around 1 May with measures in place to protect the birds.
FRB footpath markings and signage continue to be upgraded Discussion regarding opening of both footpaths, KS and CT would support both to be open over Summer.
BEAR/TS progressing with new cycle slipways at FRB steps in North Queensferry
Queensferry Crossing - Semi automatic barriers allowing quicker diversion to FRB during period of prolonged ice accretion is subject to budget availability. BEAR keen to get these installed before winter to avoid any diversion to Kincardine Bridge. Southern Piled Replacement works at Kincardine Bridge due to commence within the next few weeks (2 year project). CT and JM to discuss prioritising barrier works.
Compound - Process is underway to remove all gantries from BEAR working compound however likely have to transfer another gantry from Burntisland Storage facility to the compound due to delayed works and storage costs.
2023 UCI Cycling World Championships taking place from 3 to 13 August. 6 August event will be at Queensferry Crossing.
Visitor and cycle counters remain out of order. BEAR working on a fix.
Communications Group – Update by JB
Quarterly Forth Bridges website analysis shared. The number of users of the website are lower, likely a cookie compliance issue with previous website. Numbers to website expected to grow as visitor numbers increase throughout Spring/Summer.
GL shared enquiries stats via FBF mailbox for the last quarter. 34 received since January 2023. 22 for BEAR Scotland.
Michael Portillo filming Great British Railways 10 May 2023.
Supernova event will take place in September 2024 with launch September 2023. Sept 2024 is the 60th anniversary of FRB so good publicity and charity event.
Action: JA to ensure the Anniversaries Group start planning for FRB 60th
BEAR Scotland potentially holding Doors Open Day event again this September. Post meeting note Doors Open date confirmed as Sat 23
Network Rail - Update by SL and SD
North Approach works complete. Minor maintenance on structure. Deck clearing works are complete.
Automated warning system for inspections should be in place this year.
Forth Bridge Experience - Procurement exercise has been terminated however Network Rail continue to work with Transport Scotland to explore options to take the forth Bridge Experience forward in the current challenging public funding landscape. Alternative funding being considered. Unlikely that construction works would take place this financial year. SD has advised QDCC of this update who have voiced disappointment.
Barnardo’s your View event provisional dates 22 - 24 September 2023.
CHSS abseil event, provisional date 8 October 2023.
JA asked that the Forth Bridges merchandising is available for both Barnardo’s event and Doors Open Day.
MO advised that Scotland’s UNESCO Trail has won an International Award for Responsible Tourism.
Date of next meeting - 25 July 2023