Scotland ferries scandal: Is there to be another debacle, made in Edinburgh? – Brian Wilson

It was no surprise the word “ferries” remained unspoken at the SNP’s Aberdeen rally. Shooting fish in the Tory barrel is easy with embarrassing parallels in Edinburgh unwelcome.

Nicola Sturgeon waves at a Calmac ferry at Ardrossan harbour (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/pool/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon waves at a Calmac ferry at Ardrossan harbour (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/pool/Getty Images)

In the real world, seven CalMac ferries were this week out of service due to technical failures. The situation is dire and destined to get worse.

It is beyond belief that there is still no progress on chartering vessels to support the fleet’s resilience. Time and again, the Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, pleads “commercial confidentiality” as cover.

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How long does it take to lease a ferry? Or has Ms Gilruth been told by civil servants to batten down the hatches, leaving CalMac to make the best of what they’ve got? There is no justification for prevarication.

Intervention to protect fragile island economies is the most urgent plea which our great patriots ignore but by no means the only one. The stench of political malpractice around the Ferguson contract grows while ministers shirk a proper inquiry into an ongoing scandal.

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There is a growing movement for Norwegian-style devolution of ferry services towards communities that depend on them – a concept the Edinburgh controllers view with horror.

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Indeed, there is evidence the same civil servants and clueless ministers who created the current debacle are already implementing plans for the next phase, with CMAL and CalMac merged under a leadership of their choosing.

This must be flushed out before it becomes a fait accompli and island communities are once again left out in the cold.

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