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Hebrides News


Councillor Donald Crichton has written to Transport Minister Derek Mackay questioning the necessity of the Caledonian MacBrayne contract being put out to tender and asking for safeguards to be put in place to protect lifeline services and jobs.


Mr Crichton wrote: "Could you confirm if it is legal binding under the EU regulation for the routes to go out to tender in the first place? Was this ever legally tested by the Scottish Government or previous administrations?"


"It appears this drive to sell off our lifeline services is more a matter of desire on the part of the Scottish Government rather than a binding legal requirement."


The Loch a Tuath councillor stated that the possibility of the routes being lost to a private sector bidder was raising serious concerns across the islands' communities and fear and anxiety among CalMac employees.


He said: " Employees’ fears and concerns are understandable. Their terms and conditions are under threat and they need assurances that they will be protected should this unnecessary tendering process result in CalMac losing the contract. The communities that CalMac serves also need assurances that the routes they depend upon will remain and not be subject to threat under the private sector. "


Cllr Crichton continued: " You and the First Minister insist that this is not privatisation. However, if the contract goes to the private bidder, the company the First Minster is the principle shareholder of (Caledonian MacBrayne) will cease to exist leaving the public interest at the mercy of a private sector company.


"It was surely always a fundamental principle, that whatever the disagreements were about the way CalMac was managed it was at best accountable to the people through their democratically elected government. Through that accountability the public interest was protected for passengers and employees. Should this sell off take place that will no longer be the case."


Councillor queries ferry route tendering


30 June 2015