MSP urges government to “get a grip” on ferry problems

Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP, Donald Cameron has urged the Scottish Government to “get a grip” on continuing problems facing residents and businesses in the region who are dependent on ferries.

Mr Cameron renewed his call for action following news that ferry operator, CalMac, is proposing to remove vehicles for up to eight weeks on the Lochaline-Mull route, an announcement which has caused consternation among ferry-users who rely on the service. It is understood that residents may face a detour of 80 miles as a result.

Mr Cameron said: “The Lochaline crossing has long been an alternative ferry route to and from Mull used by locals and visitors alike and even a temporary closure to vehicles will have significant consequences”.

“More widely, these continued problems with our ferry network are undermining the confidence of businesses and communities in our islands. Who is going to invest in a new business if they can’t get their goods to market?

“After 12 years of promises from Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers, it has become only too clear that our transport infrastructure has not been a priority. Things have only got worse in many cases. Ministers have to get a grip.

“Only two weeks ago I attended a meeting of the Dunoon Ferry Action Group where residents are desperately worried about their local service following years of promises of investment which have come to nothing.

“And only last month, SNP minister Paul Wheelhouse had to admit that replacement ferries earmarked for routes between Skye and the Western Isles would not be delivered on time, while further north, the Government is failing to deliver on its promises for fair pricing for the Orkney and Shetland service.

“Meanwhile the CalMac ferry fleet continues to age with the prospect of another season of delays and cancellations.

“You really have to wonder what it will take for Nicola Sturgeon to wake up to these problems which are rapidly growing out of hand.”