SNP Members of the Scottish Parliament representing Scotland’s west coast island communities will tomorrow meet with Graeme Dey MSP, the new Minister for Transport, over mounting disruptions to islands transportation.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan, Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto and Cunninghame North MSP Kenny Gibson (whose constituency includes Arran and Cumbrae) will meet the minister with responsibility for ferries on Tuesday afternoon (25 May).
Alasdair Allan MSP has highlighted the need for immediate additional capacity for the Hebrides and Clyde ferries network. Transport Scotland is actively exploring chartering additional tonnage in addition to an investment plan worth at least £580m over the next five years.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“Island communities are beyond exasperation with the current ferry situation. The unreliability and unavailability of ferry services is having serious effects on the islands’ economy, construction projects, healthcare provision and food delivery.
“What started over a month and a half ago with the loss of the fleet’s main vessel has spilled over onto nearly every other route, significantly reducing capacity across the region, not least in South Uist and Barra.
“Calmac have now stopped taking bookings in Lochboisdale, Castlebay and Stornoway until 8 June. Emails are left unanswered for a fortnight and people can’t get through to change bookings on the phones.
“Flights are filling up as a consequence, causing both essential and non-essential travel plans to grind to a halt. I will be raising these issues as a matter of urgency to the new Minister for Transport.”