The awarding of the Northern Isles Ferry contract has been delayed again due to a legal challenge by CalMac Ferries Ltd. The Scottish Government had announced that Serco Northlink would be the preferred bidder to provide the lifeline services to Orkney and Shetland. CalMac Ferries Ltd have raised a legal objection to this. Serco Wins Contract & Ferry Fares to be Reduced
The announcement of Serco Northlink as the preferred bidder was met with objections by politicians from political parties at the time. Reaction Round Up to Serco Ferry Contract Award
Labour have described the latest delay as a ferry “fiasco”.
The start of the new contract had already been delayed due to a separate legal challenge by Pentland Ferries.
Colin Smyth, MSP, Labour’s spokesperson for Transport, Connectivity and Rural Economy in the Scottish Government, said:
“This fiasco exposes the SNP’s mishandling of this lifeline ferry services contract.
“Their incompetence and opposition to public ownership has led to the extraordinary situation we now have of a Government being taken to court by its own company.
“Meanwhile, communities who rely on these services have no certainty on what is going to happen to their lifeline services.
“This chaos could have been avoided if the SNP had followed through on their commitment to scrap the wasteful and confusing tendering process and directly awarded lifeline ferry services to public sector operators.”
“The decision to award the contract to a private company which subcontracts to companies that do not pay the minimum wage already raised serious questions about the SNP Government’s decision, but now it seems their own company has no confidence in that process and SNP Ministers have serious questions to answer.”
Paul Wheelhouse,Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands in the Scottish Government said:
“Scottish Ministers remain fully committed to the provision of safe, effective and reliable ferry services to the Northern Isles.
“On behalf of Ministers, Transport Scotland are liaising with the current operator, Serco Limited, to make arrangements for the extension of the current contract to maintain continuity of service and to ensure full connectivity to and from the Northern Isles.
“This will mean that the local communities, passengers and businesses who rely on the services, and the staff who work on them, will not be affected by the legal proceedings and services will be run as normal throughout this period.
“The legal proceedings will not affect our recent commitment to fare reductions on the Shetland routes for islanders, including a 20% discount on cabin fares and a three year fares freeze from January 2020 on the Northern Isles ferry services that builds on the existing 30% discount for passenger and vehicle fares already enjoyed by islanders.”