MP blasted over silly jibe

Published: 1 Jan 2008 12:301 comment

COUNCILLORS in Fife and Clackmannanshire have united in condemning the comments of a controversial Falkirk Labour MP who has described their efforts to come up with a name for the Upper Forth Crossing as a 'kind of silliness'.

Eric Joyce was sent an email from the office of Clackmannanshire Council"s chief executive Dave Jones asking if he would consider supporting the naming of the new bridge as the Clackmannanshire Bridge.

But Mr Joyce declined, suggesting the council"s proposal was unimaginative and parochial, and that the email he had been sent was 'pretty daft'.

His response has annoyed councillors in both Fife and the Wee County, with Fife SNP councillor Douglas Chapman being appalled by the language used by the Labour MP, and Clackmannanshire"s Eddie Carrick calling the comments ill informed and insulting.

Mr Joyce - who circulated his response to many MSPs and MPs, including Scottish Secretary Des Browne, and Clackmannanshire"s MP and MSP Gordon Banks and Keith Brown - said the council"s email was 'pretty daft, and frankly cheap'.

He went on, 'As the MP for Falkirk, the constituency on one side of the bridge, I can tell you that people on my side agree that the name of the present Kincardine Bridge, which marks the town of Kincardine on the other side, is already quite parochial enough, thanks.

'The new crossing will be an enormous step forward for communities on both sides and well beyond into the economy of central Scotland.

'Both the bridge and its eventual name will be part of the local landscape for 100 years, so let"s try to get beyond this kind of silliness.

'There"s a consultation process underway, so let"s trust the public to come up with something a great deal more appropriate and imaginative than Clackmannanshire Council.'

The reply from Mr Joyce - perhaps best known for his staunch support of the Iraq war and for having among the highest expenses claims of the UK"s MPs - was condemned by Mr Chapman as 'a fairly rancid email'.

The Fife councillor said, 'He criticises Clackmannanshire Council for wanting the bridge to be named Clackmannanshire Bridge.

'He dismisses the current Kincardine Bridge as being named in a "parochial" fashion, and we can only assume that with Fifers wanting the bridge to be called the "Kingdom Bridge", that is just as parochial in Mr Joyce"s eyes.

'I am just wondering if he intends campaigning to have the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Dartford Tunnel in London renamed as they sound a bit parochial too!'

Mr Chapman added, 'My own personal preference would be the "William Wallace Bridge" and while not parochial, it would probably be too Scottish for Mr Joyce.'

Councillor Eddie Carrick, who is spearheading the council"s campaign for the Clackmannanshire Bridge, was equally scathing about Mr Joyce"s response.

He told the Advertiser, 'Mr Joyce has managed in to insult the councillors of both Fife and Clackmannanshire and also the communities they represent.

'I am aware that he has the right to free speech, but as an elected member he should be careful - the same as the rest of us - not to insult people"s feelings.

'Saying that, I do not think that many people take what Mr Joyce says at any time seriously. Indeed the last time that I personally saw Mr Joyce"s name in print was not because he was fighting for his communities, he was actually defending what he had claimed from the tax payer in expenses, one of the highest claims in Britain.

'I think that Mr Joyce should get his brain in gear prior to putting pen to paper.

'In the future I hope that the people of Falkirk will remember how he insulted the people of Fife and Clackmannanshire.

'Fife"s people have got the democratic right to express their views on the naming of the bridge the same as the people of Clackmannanshire.

'Clackmannanshire Council came to an intelligent decision to suggest calling it Clackmannanshire Bridge for the right reasons - that is to boost our local economy and to have Clackmannanshire recognised for the right reasons - and Fife and ourselves do not need cheap jibes from an ill informed MP.'

Willie Ferguson, councillor for West Fife and coastal villages, was equally dismissive of Mr Joyce"s comments.

He said, 'I"m reflecting the views of my constituents by supporting the Kingdom Bridge.

'But rather than getting caught up in the name for a bridge I am just happy it is here.

'The main thing about campaigning for the bridge was improving the quality of life in Kincardine and improving the transport strategy.'

You can show your support for Clackmannanshire Bridge by filling in the coupon at the bottom of this page or by sending an email to the Transport Minister at namethebridge@transportscotland.gsi.gov.uk

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