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Scott slams SNP over consulting fee

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott has hit out at the Scottish government for wasting £25,000 on consultants to examine ways to save £1 million on the northern isles ferry route.

Transport minister Stewart Stevenson responded to a parliamentary question from Mr Scott saying the cost of employing BM Consulting and Reference Economic Consultants “will be about £25K”.

The minister could not quantify the internal cost of civil servants working on the study, saying they were covered by “normal ferry contract management activities and ongoing engagement with the local communities served”.

The government’s controversial proposals caused an outcry in Shetland and Orkney with both islands authorities refusing to accept any of the government’s eight options for saving money, including slower journeys and higher fares.

Earlier this month Holyrood dropped the cost saving plans altogether, saying that ferry operator NorthLink had done better than expected this year and made the cuts unnecessary.

Mr Scott accused the government of wasting £25,000 while lecturing everyone else on saving money.

“The government is incapable of doing anything without spending money on advice from people who know nothing about ferries, and even less about island life and the Shetland economy.

“Despite spending, and wasting, £25,000 on this study, no economic impact was done on the SNP’s damaging proposals to cut our lifeline shipping services. That simply illustrates how chaotic and irresponsible this government is.”

He suggested that next time the minister consult the Shetland transport partnership ZetTrans, who would “advise the minister by return that the plans were damaging and unworkable, and they would do this without charging a penny”.