I am delighted to hear that a second ferry on the Stornoway route is now a top priority
for the Scottish Government. They'll have to let us know where they plan to find
one, as the communities of Uist and Barra can testify, they aren't easy to come by.
Surely they are not playing short term politics with our lifeline services - again.
The calls from almost every islander, haulier and frequent ferry user was that a
two ferry solution was necessary on the Stornoway route.
Letter: Ferry predictions ignored
14 July 2017
However, the Scottish Government knew better and we have the Loch Seaforth. Our tourism
industry provided compelling evidence that capacity would be an issue, although no-one
expected us to reach capacity levels quite so quickly.
We have had a summer of shambolic ferry services with ferries full and locals not
able to get on and off the islands at short notice. And now, there is a widespread
fear that there is to be an introduction of booking on as a foot passenger. All of
the blame for this lies at the door of the Scottish Government who did not listen
to our communities in relation to our lifeline services.
This is mirrored across the islands, where none of our communities feel they are
well served by the current set up. The idea that a second ferry is now a priority
is at best laughable, at worst insulting. When the Loch Seaforth was being commissioned
was there even any long term planning in relation to the route? The evidence suggests
not. The current state of the ferry services across the islands highlights problems
which run deep in the Scottish Government. There is no long term strategic plan in
relation to our ferry services.
So, we are supposed to believe that this is now a priority and they should be congratulated
for taking action. Although, as yet no second ferry has been identified and no-one
on our islands wants to see another community inconvenienced to try and fix the problems
which were of the Scottish Government's making. We are mid-way through July and the
damage for this year has been done. I sincerely hope that there is a plan in place
to ensure that this does not happen again. Our islands certainly can't afford it.