We represent local businesess and from that point of view think the economic impact and the advantages of being able to come under a world heritage brand would be very beneficial. Obviously we would need to make sure that we had the correct infrastructure in place.
If we were going to get thousands of more visitors, we would need proper signage and parking improved to both the north and south of the Forth Bridge.
The world heritage brand does tend to bring people in. We received a presentation from an expert on world heritage sites earlier this year and it certainly made everyone think. He said world heritage status is really what you want to make of it – you can either embrace it or you can ignore it.
Queensferry Ambition would hope that everyone would embrace it and get as much as they possibly could out of it.
We’ve done a lot of work with the schools and the kids all think that South Queensferry owns the rail bridge. It’s a huge part of the town. Love it or hate it – it’s there. I think we all take it for granted sometimes. You just have to remind yourself that it’s special.
Yesterday, when I parked the car near the bridge at 9.30, there were about seven coaches with people standing there taking pictures of the bridge. If it got world heritage status, it would put us on the map even more as a visitor destination.
I think it’s an international symbol. Even for Edinburgh when we’re marketing the capital city, there’s always a picture of the rail bridge somewhere. VisitScotland always uses an image of the rail bridge in any promotional material. It’s a symbol that is recognised worldwide and this status can only raise it higher in people’s estimations.
Since the bridge has had a repaint, it’s looking better than ever. We get a huge amount of visitors coming off the cruise liners immediately under the bridge at Hawes Pier. Last weekend, we were telling visitors the bridge will be 125 years old in 2015. The Americans in particular couldn’t believe looking at the structure that it was that old because it looks so new at the moment. I don’t think they could even grasp there was a bridge that old. It’s an icon.
We would love to see a visitor centre built as part of this process, not just for the rail bridge, but for the three bridges including the Forth Replacement Crossing. There’s no other landscape that I know that has a bridge from each century. We’re very privileged in that way.
I know people are worried about the disruption, but if we start looking at it now – and I certainly think we’ve got all the partners on board with the bridges forum group – all these issues can be resolved to benefit the Queensferry community.
• Diane Brown is project manager of the business improvement group Queensferry ambition