Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil and SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday met with Scottish Government Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP to discuss transportation issues facing the Western Isles this summer.
The island parliamentarians set out the challenges around Western Isles ferry services, and made clear the concerns of island communities about capacity and reliability. The meeting also discussed the affordability and capacity of aviation services to the islands.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“This was a useful and productive meeting. The Minister’s recent visits and engagement with communities in Western Isles has left her with a clear understanding of the challenges we face.
“We discussed the situation with the MV Lord of the Isles, CalMac’s booking policies, cancellation charges, the upcoming closure of Uig Harbour, the pressing need for more capacity on CalMac’s network, and capacity on the flights to Barra during the summer.
“These services aren’t a luxury for islanders: they are lifeline services which impact and affect virtually every facet of island life. We do need to see improvements and yesterday’s meeting was a good chance to make that case.”
Angus MacNeil MP commented:
“It was a very helpful meeting with Jenny Gilruth, Transport Minister, who was very engaged with the issues.
“I thought she listened to the suggestion of introducing booking windows on ferries and the wisdom of having those. She was also looking for further information on CalMac’s plans to introduce levies on cancelled ferry bookings. The idea of penalising people who make bookings and don’t travel will cause all sorts of problems for oil workers and many other people have to change plans at short notice.
“She was listening on how full the Barra air services are with people booking day trips to land on the beach. This is making our lifeline service into a bucket list service.
“Overall, I think it is heartening that we have a Transport Minister who is this engaged and is one of the best Transport Ministers I have dealt with.”