No plans to privatise Scottish ferry services, Nicola Sturgeon says

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government has no plans to privatise or split up the provision of public service ferries across Scotland.

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Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, the SNP leader said there were “no plans” to change the way ferries were funded in Scotland. This assertion came despite reports in The Herald that global consultancy firm Ernst & Young has been tasked to look into the potential “unbundling of routes”.

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Asked by Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark whether the Scottish Government would commit to keep island ferry provision in public ownership, the First Minister denied any plans for privatisation.

The Scottish Government said it has no plans to privatise or split up its island ferry fleet.The Scottish Government said it has no plans to privatise or split up its island ferry fleet.
The Scottish Government said it has no plans to privatise or split up its island ferry fleet.
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She said: “I will be very clear in the commitment, we have no plans whatsoever to privatise public service ferries and contrary to concerns expressed in recent press reports, we have no plans whatsoever to split up the CalMac network.

"These ferry services are delivered through public contracts in line with relevant procurement requirements and guidance.

"This ensures control over service levels, timetables and fares and the contracts, of course, are operated right now by CalMac and Serco Northlink.

"The report that gave rise to these concerns has yet to even be received by ministers. Once we have it we will study it with interest, but by definition it represents the views of the authors, not ministers.”

It was reported Ernst & Young are looking at recommendations around changing the structure of how ferry services are awarded, and an “analysis of the challenges and opportunities associated with options for decentralisation” such as unbundling.

The Scottish Government has been under pressure to improve ferry services after years of problems with the ferry fleet.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the SNP in government had “invested over £2 billion pounds” in ferry services and infrastructure, with spending of £580 million earmarked for the next five years.

The First Minister pledged: “We will continue to invest in our ferry network to give people in our islands the service the have every right to expect.”

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It comes just week after Ferguson Marine stressed the completion of the first of two long-delayed CalMac ferries by the revised date of September would be “challenging” due to significant disruption linked to Covid.

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