There has been a further delay in the awarding of the contract to run the Northern Isles ferries.
The current operators, Serco Northlink Ferries, who are also the preferred bidder for the new contract, have been given an extension of 3 months to run the service to 31st of January 2020.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, Liberal Democrat ,has hit out at the delay. He said:
“The new contract for the Northern Isles Ferry Service is already 18 months late. This further three month delay is the last thing communities in Orkney and Shetland needed, given the ongoing uncertainty it creates.
“It seems that every time Ministers make an announcement the deadline for the new contract gets pushed back. This latest delay is blamed on concerns raised by the European Commission. Given the regular dialogue between the Scottish Government and the Commission over the past year, it beggars belief that Ministers should have been caught out in this way.
“Meanwhile, businesses and communities in Orkney and Shetland are left wondering when they will ever get clarity over the future of these lifeline ferry services.”
The delay is the result of complaints about the awarding of the contract raised by Pentland Ferries to the European Commission.
Extending the contract whilst the European Commission is investigating the complaints means that there will be a continuity of service to the islands.
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands in the Scottish Government said:
“We need to engage further with the European Commission about the on-going complaint from Pentland Ferries and resolve any outstanding issues.
“The extension will allow us to conclude that engagement before signing the new contract with Serco NorthLink Ferries, as well as giving ferry users continuity of service in the short term.
“It’s important to stress that will have no impact on the Scottish Government’s commitments around reduced cabin fares and the three year freeze on islander fares.”
If the complaint has been raised by the ferry company running the service, why are you complaining about the Scottidh government ? What exactly, if anything, have you as the MSP, done to help to resolve the issues ?
The complaint has been raised by Pentland Ferries not Serco Northlink who currently run the service
Apart from the fact that Mr. McArtur just loves making mischief, I would treat his comments with more respect if he and his Lib/Dem colleagues had been so diligent during their eight-year coalition with Labour – eight Council Houses built throughout Scotland in eight years or all the delays to the building of the Aberdeen By-pass, whoops I forgot that these were due to legal challenges and I could start on ferries but it has all been said before.
As for the current delay, I was under the impression from news reports last week that a further legal challenge to the awarding of this contract had been made by CalMac and if is the case there is nothing that any Govt can do about that FACT. Mr. McArthur would serve everybody better if he raised competent issues instead of his usual crop of vexatious comments.