The contract for the operation of the Northlink Ferries to Orkney and Shetland due to come to an end in April 2018 has been extended to October 2019. This will allow time for Humza Yousaf, Transport Minister in the Scottish Government to make the case for awarding the contracts ‘in house’.
Humza Yousaf said:
“In the case of the Northern Isles Ferry Services, we will extend the contract until October 2019 with a view to making a decision on future tendering in Spring 2018.
“As part of this process, we will take account of progress made on further consideration of the Teckal exemption and state aid rules.
“We will also follow-up on our earlier engagement by writing to key local community stakeholders in order to build a better understanding of their preferences for the future approach to the procurement of their ferry services.”
The decision also includes The Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services run by the publically owned CalMac contracted until 2024. The contract process for the Gourock-Dunoon ferry service will be re-started.
The move has been welcomed by Unite the Union.
Davie Graham, the Unite Rep on Calmac Ferries said:
“We welcome the decision taken to end the tendering process in principle.
“The unions involved in CalMac have all fought long and hard over many years to end this waste of taxpayers’ money.
“We are especially pleased to see the Minister’s stated preference to make awards to an in-house provider and to directly appoint CalMac to run the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services.”
A decision on the Northern Isles route will be made in Spring 2018.
Humza Yousaf said:
“Making sure our ferry services support our island and remote rural communities remains at the heart of this exercise. We will ensure that these iconic services continue to play a vital role for the people and industries that depend on them.”