§ 17. Mr. Willis
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps are being taken to retain for general traffic needs the bridge being constructed over the River Esk to convey equipment to Cockenzie Power Station.
§ Mr. Willis
Is not this quite scandalous? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that the cost of this bridge is about £30,000 or £40,000; that it is on the route which was originally suggested as a by-pass for Musselburgh, and that it is used to relieve the shopping centre of Musselburgh from the considerable volume of heavy traffic that passes through it? Is it not a waste of public money if the bridge is not to be used for general needs?
§ Mr. Noble
When the planning consent was given to the South of Scotland Electricity Board to construct the bridge it was on the condition—as I think the hon. Member knows—that it would be removed when it had served its purpose. This consent expires on 31st December, 1969, a considerable time ahead. If the bridge is to be retained the highway authority would have to acquire it, and an amendment of the Midlothian County Plan, providing a permanent crossing at this point, would be needed. As 385 such a proposal would come before me for a decision, I cannot comment on the merits of it at this time.
§ Mr. Willis
Will not the right hon. Gentleman consult the Midlothian County Council on this matter? This is on a trunk road, which is the right hon. Gentleman's concern. Will he see whether this bridge could not be used to make a badly needed contribution to the solution of the traffic problem of Musselburgh?
Mr. J. Hill
Is the Minister aware that there is great disquiet in the Burgh of Musselburgh about this bridge? Is he aware that, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), there is a bottleneck now in Musselburgh and that this would go a long way to relieve it not only for heavy traffic but holiday and weekend traffic on a busy great north road?
§ Mr. Noble
As I think the hon. Gentleman knows, when the suggestion for this bridge was first put forward a great many of the inhabitants of Mussel-burgh objected, and that is the reason why this method of keeping the bridge open until 31st December, 1969, was adopted. The objections were then withdrawn. If the conditions are to be changed we must go through the proper procedure.