‘Democracy is not a spectator sport’

Ferries – politicians are fired up about them, and if you look at comments on social media (health warning – not advisable to do so regularly) it seems the public are too. Then where were the people when Project Neptune came to Orkney?

To find out about Project Neptune and its importance click on this link: Share Your Views on Ferries as ‘Project Neptune’ Comes to Orkney

Angus Campbell was appointed by the Scottish Government to chair and report on the community response to the proposals in Project Neptune. But Angus Campbell is no government man and was genuinely in Orkney to hear the views of our community.

He is currently chair of  CalMac’s independent Community Board that looks at strategic issues affecting islanders across their operational route. His additional appointment to his role as  Chair of the Ferries Communities board was to lead the community consultation on the next steps for Project Neptune. Steps which will affect not just the islands and coastal communities of the West Coast but of Orkney and Shetland too.

For 3 months he has been visiting islands to meet with, in person, islanders, their elected representatives and local businesses who all use the ferries, to get their views on how the ferry transport network in Scotland should be run.

On his visit to Orkney, Angus Campbell met with councillors, hauliers and other stakeholders. He followed this up with early evening meetings in Kirkwall and Stromness where the general public could turn up and feed in their views to his report.

The general public were mostly missing.

Communities should have a much bigger say in how ferries are run.

How do you get a better community voice?

Listening to the community’s view.

In his meetings across islands there are common themes emerging: on local v national decision making; the kind of vessels and service we need; and should the ferry service be like our public bus service allowing the under 22 travel pass to enable young people to travel freely?

Perhaps people are weary of consultations and reports? Perhaps people are happy with the decisions politician make on our behalf and are content to let them get on with it?

We live in what should be a participative democracy – and for that to be effective it requires participation.

Angus Campbell’s next port of call will be in Shetland. Hopefully Shetlanders will respond to his engagement with them so that the view he takes back is truly one from all the community there.

Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy. – Michael Moore

Fiona Grahame

The Northlink ferry the Hamnavoe sailing out of Stromness past Hoy

1 reply »

  1. On Flotta – meeting not at a convenient time for ferries, and cannot afford to stay overnight every time there is a meeting I would like to attend

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