NHS Shetland - Survey - March 2021

Come clean on ferries

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is worried the Scottish government will try to rush through the tender process for the northern isles ferry contract, currently held by state-owned NorthLink.

He also fears the government may be planning to split the passenger and freight contracts, warning this would be “profoundly dangerous to Shetland’s needs”.

The Liberal Democrat MSP has called for a government consultation on the tendering specification.

The new contract is due to commence in June next year, but previous tender exercises took between two and three years, he pointed out in a letter to infrastructure secretary Alex Neil.

Mr Scott said: “I have raised these points with the minister as I am seriously worried that the delays in getting the tendering process going are going to lead to a rushed tender process with insufficient time being provided for consultation on the specification.

“The government’s lack of understanding of our needs was demonstrated by their previous plans to cut the winter services and to slow down the ferries so that they either left too early or arrived too late.

“We headed the government off then, but the fear is that they will try again to introduce something similar in the new contract.

“And, if they are indeed thinking about splitting passengers and freight, it shows a fundamental lack of understanding how the two services combine effectively to provide the service we need at the lowest cost.”