A CELEBRATION of the Forth bridges is set to cost city taxpayers £50,000, it emerged today.
The financial commitment from the city council, expected to be approved at next Tuesday’s culture and sport committee meeting, will help pay for major events planned for next year’s Forth Bridges Festival.
The festival, which will include a parade and spectacular fireworks display, is being organised to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Road Bridge.
The council’s contribution is among £177,000 in public funds being spent on the festival. The Scottish Government’s events arm has awarded £60,000 to the spectacle, while Fife Council will pitch in £20,000.
Business group Queensferry Ambition and the Forth Estuary Transport Authority are jointly providing £47,000.
The spending comes despite assertions the landmark event would be mostly self-funded on the back of corporate sponsorship and tower climb ticket sales.
Up to 2014 people are getting the chance to climb to the top of the road bridge from June next year.
A council report cited the festival’s economic benefits as justification for the funding.
City transport vice-convener Councillor Jim Orr said: “No money allocated for the maintenance of the bridge is being used to fund the festival.
“As a council, we’re proud of our links to the bridge and excited about the festival.”
It has been revealed for the first time that a piece of public art linked to the bridges will be created as a new tourist attraction.
A scrapbook providing a memoir of what the bridges mean to people and an ancestry day where relatives of bridge workers are able to trace their family trees will also be part of the festival.
Green culture spokesman Councillor Chas Booth said: “The impression that was given was that this festival would largely be self-financing, in that it would generate quite a lot of interest and income through the various programmes that were being planned.
“The two existing bridges – the rail bridge and the road bridge – were feats of engineering in their time and they are iconic structures. We’re coming up to a significant anniversary and I think it’s reasonable to put a small amount of public money towards celebrating those structures.
“They do seem to have considered all of the options and all of the eventualities to ensure that there wasn’t an undue burden on the public purse.”
Meanwhile, it has been revealed more than 27,000 people have voted on their preferred choice for the new Forth Replacement Crossing. The options are Caledonia Bridge, Firth of Forth Crossing, Queensferry Crossing, Saltire Crossing and St Margaret’s Crossing.
The voting closes on June 7.