Fife businesses: We need clear deadline to get bridge open again

The business community in Fife is bracing itself to cope with the impact of the decision to close the Forth Road Bridge.

Concerns over deliveries to businesses was the primary concern raised by different groups following the closure last Friday.

Fife businesses say the Government must be clear on when the bridge will re-open. Picture: Jane Barlow

Fife businesses say the Government must be clear on when the bridge will re-open. Picture: Jane Barlow

Deputy First Minister John Swinney chaired a meeting of business organisations to listen to their views and promised to stay in close contact in the next few weeks.

He added: “We will fully consider the points made by the business community and I am clear that, if the travel plan needs to be altered, we will do that.”

But despite Mr Swinney’s promise, Janet Torley, chairman of the Fife Federation of Small Businesses, said she was still concerned, calling the closure a “national disaster”.

She said: “I am very worried and so are some of the businesses that I’ve spoken to.

“For example, you need to take into account businesses who rely on fresh produce, because there’s obviously time constraints that need to be considered there.

“There’s also the danger that shoppers might just go online.

“We also have a lot of businesses that rely on tourism.

“Will people now cancel Christmas breaks that they had planned? Will they be put off as they’re not able to cross the bridge?

“This isn’t just a Fife disaster, it’s a national disaster, and I think there’s a chance on us losing out on passing trade.”

Eric Byiers, chief executive of the Fife Chamber of Commerce, called for a definitive date for the re-opening.

“The closure will undoubtedly have a serious impact on local businesses, both in terms of their workforce and the operation of their businesses,” he said.

“What businesses need now is a clear and unequivocal deadline for the completion of the repair works.

“Business solutions which might be sustainable for two or three weeks might not work or be sustainable if the timescale stretches to two or three months.”

At Kirkcaldy 4 All, Bill Harvey, BID manager, said that he had not yet heard any concerns raised from local businesses.

“Obviously, this will affect us but I think we need to grasp what we can from this situation as a town,” he added.

“I would urge townsfolk to use the town centre and shop locally. It will save you the current uncertainty of going across the Forth.”