Scottish Government to pay over £200k to Dutch firm to turn around scandal-hit Ferguson Marine

The Scottish Government will pay more than £200,000 to a Dutch consultancy firm to tell them how to turn around a scandal hit ferry shipyard.

HaskoningDHV UK Limited has been hired to “identify ways to improve the competitiveness” of the Ferguson Marine yard – three years after it was nationalised.

The cost of the Shipyard Review of Productivity and Potential Improvements Study is £212,544 before VAT.

The contract comes as Ferguson Marine chief executive David Tydeman said he was confident both of the delayed CalMac vessels would be delivered next year.

The Glen Sannox docked at the Ferguson Marine facility. Picture: John Devlin

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He told the BBC they were "on programme" to meet the latest delivery schedule for Glen Sannox of between March and May next year, with 802 due to be finished by the end of 2023.

"We have the opportunity starting with 802 over the next year to show we are as good as we were 10 years ago," he said.

The Ferguson Marine yard is at the heart of the CalMac Ferries scandal, where two boats intended for lifeline services are now five years late and £150 million over budget.

Opposition parties questioned why the consultancy exercise was only being carried out now, when ministers took the yard into public ownership in August 2019.

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A new official procurement notice said the Government hired HaskoningDHV under “an accelerated procedure” because there was only a small window in which to do the work.

It said the Scottish Government was working with Ferguson Marine to understand what improvements and investment could benefit the shipyard to increase its productivity.

It said Ferguson Marine was “actively pursuing future contracts” as well as completing the two CalMac ferries.

The notice went on: "A window of opportunity has been identified in the yard's current work programme when any improvements identified in this report could be undertaken at a time that minimises any impact on existing projects and is undertaken in advance of the next prospective vessels being built.

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"In order to maximise the chances of alignment with this window of opportunity, and mitigate any negative impact on current or future projects, the Scottish Government is using the accelerated time limits permitted under this procurement."

HaskoningDHV UK Ltd, which is owned by international engineering consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV in the Netherlands, was the sole bidder for the job.

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said: "No normal company would buy a business then wait three years before thinking about how to make it profitable.

"The Scottish Government is a serial failure when it comes to industrial interventions and it's the taxpayer who pays the price.

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"If they had got started on this work three years ago, shipbuilding on the Clyde might be in a better place.”

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: "That the SNP Government has only now thought to seek expert help at Fergusons is emblematic of their years of failure on this issue.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Significant progress has been made at Ferguson Marine and the yard is back to being a serious contender for future vessel contracts.

"As part of ongoing work to support the yard to secure these future opportunities, and in line with recommendations in the [March 2022] Audit Scotland report, we have commissioned this piece of work from global shipbuilding experts to evaluate what possible improvements can be made for the yard to be more efficient, competitive and to win contracts on merit.”

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