PROTECTING SCOTLAND’S LIFELINE FERRIES
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 12:58
MacDonald champions SNP commitment to public ownership of vital Clyde and Hebrides services
Responding to a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament on Clyde and Hebrides ferry services, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has condemned Labour’s “misleading and irresponsible” privatisation claims.
Commenting, Mr. MacDonald – pictured above on Stornoway pier by Caledonian MacBrayne’s Loch Seaforth ferry – stated, “Labour’s misleading and irresponsible privatisation scare stories are well and truly sunk.
"They are guilty of the most extraordinary hypocrisy. Indeed, when they were in government, Labour undertook precisely the same tender process as the Scottish Government is now – it wasn’t privatisation then and it’s not privatisation now."
The MSP for Falkirk East continued, “In fact, the only difference is that the Scottish Government have improved the tendering process by introducing an independent procurement panel, which includes local authority, unions, community and industry representatives, who have said that the tender process has been fair, open and transparent.
“As Labour is fully aware, while the Scottish Government is required under EU law to tender these services, every boat and port will remain in public ownership and, just as now, Scottish Ministers will continue to set routes, timetables and fares for these vital services.
“By carrying out a fair and transparent tendering process the Scottish Government can continue to invest in ferry services. Since coming to office the SNP government has invested a record £1 billion in ferries and, with a £97 million order for two new CalMac vessels being awarded to Ferguson’s, the SNP Government’s investment in ferry services is helping support commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde.
“From a personal perspective, I greatly value the lifeline that Scotland’s ferries provide for many island communities and visitors alike. With family roots in the Isle of Lewis, over the years I have regularly used the Caledonian MacBrayne services linking Uig to Tarbert and Ullapool to Stornoway."
Mr. MacDonald added, “Moreover, with my parliamentary remits on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee and the Cross-Party Group on Gaelic, which I convene, I am only too well aware of the devastating impact ferry restrictions can have - not only on those who live our islands or who have family who stay there, but also on tourism, shipbuilding and the country’s economy as a whole.
"It is therefore essential that we protect these crucial services and keep them safely in public hands.
“Thankfully, while Labour continues to carp from the side-lines, the SNP government is investing in our vital transport infrastructure and remains committed to protecting and promoting publicly owned and controlled lifeline ferry services.”