Thousands of hopefuls who were unsuccessful in a high-profile ballot giving 50,000 people the chance to walk across the new Queensferry Crossing should still be afforded the opportunity.
That’s the view of campaigners behind a new online petition which has called for anybody to be allowed to walk across the new bridge after almost a quarter of a million people entered the draw.
E-mails have been sent to the lucky 50,000 people selected confirming their spot on the Queensferry Crossing Experience on September 2 and 3, although it is understood there are more than 176,000 other individuals who have been left disappointed.
Describing the ballot process as “inefficient”, Christine Dewar, of Markinch, who has started the online petition, said she believed that the open period should be extended by several days, giving everybody in the neighbouring communities the chance to see the £1.35 billion structure up close.
Organisers of the ballot have confirmed that 51% of those who applied for tickets came from communities neighbouring the crossing.
However, Mrs Dewar says that this in unfair on those who were unsuccessful.
She said: “We are concerned about the ballot process currently being used to decide on the people chosen to walk over the new Queensferry Crossing.
“The Scottish Government has spent a huge amount of funds on this and it seems fair that the population, particularly of Fife and the Lothians, should have an open opportunity to walk over this beautiful structure to view these bridges.
“While the ballot seems to be fair it doesn’t seem to be working efficiently given how the selection is being made.
“We are campaigning for the government to extend the walkover period to at least four or five full days to allow freedom to walk.”
While the majority of those who took part in the ballot process hailed from communities neighbouring the Forth, more than 5,000 people from elsewhere in the UK also took part, with 437 entries having been received from countries such as India, the United States and Slovakia.
The online petition calling for the open period to be extended has been launched on change.org and was fast attracting signatures yesterday.
Fiona Allan, from Methil, was just one of those supporting the petition.
“Having watched the bridge during its construction, I am really disappointed that, despite living in Fife, I will not be able to give my children the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk across this beautiful structure,” she said.
“As a family of five we were not allowed to apply to the ballot as a family unit, as it was limited to a maximum of four people per application.
“This has resulted in my husband – who had to apply individually – being accepted and me and my three kids – on a separate application – being rejected. Such a shame.
“This should be a family experience! I cannot see the harm in extending the walking time by a few days to give more people the chance to experience this opportunity.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “It is important to strike a balance between providing access for this special opportunity, delivering the new bridge for its originally intended purpose and managing the potential impact on local communities and infrastructure by holding an event which brings large numbers of people to surrounding area.
“This resulted in the decision to hold the Queensferry Crossing Experience over a single weekend when buses and park and ride transport hubs are less busy to minimise the impact on both the trunk road network and the local roads around the project in a co-ordinated way.
“The number of people who can be safely and securely accommodated over two days has been carefully considered to ensure that everyone who takes part can do so in a safe way, while allowing people to have the most enjoyable experience of the Queensferry Crossing possible.
“About 51% of the entrants to the ballot had local addresses and we would expect this to be reflected in the final random allocation of tickets so that over half of the places available will be given to local residents.
“The project has worked closely with the community councils of North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Rosyth, South Queensferry, Newton and Kirkliston and will continue to work with them to ensure that in addition to having an opportunity to enter the ballot, many local school pupils, community groups and members of local communities have the opportunity to take part in the opening celebrations, including the Queensferry Crossing Experience.”