LABOUR by-election candidate Johan Adamson says she will campaign for a bed on the Northern Isles ferries to be included in the lifeline fare.
She said a cabin is a “necessity and not a luxury” – adding that it costs a family the “same or more than a peak season city hotel room”.
Her comments come after SNP candidate Tom Wills said he would press for a 20 per cent islander discount on cabins.
The Scottish Government has so far not included cabins in its ongoing roll-out of reduced ferry fares through its road equivalent tariff scheme.
“The NorthLink ferry service was hampered from the outset by ferries which were designed for the market rather than for Shetlanders,” Adamson said.
“Lack of cabins and space for freight and livestock have long been issues. It is a shame that the SNP have now bought the boats and Aberdeen is not able to take larger ferries so there is no room for improvement in the immediate future, except for running more ferries.
“The cost of the ferry to Aberdeen has also been a bone of contention and neither Tavish nor the SNP grasp the fact that our journey is different because it is overnight, and a cabin is a necessity and not a luxury, which costs a family the same or more than a peak season city hotel room.
“Moving forward I will campaign for a bed on the boat to be included in the lifeline fare. I welcome the nationalisation of the service which ensures that profits are reinvested in the service and its staff.”
Adamson also said the people of Shetland should be asked for their thoughts on Shetland Islands Council’s internal ferry network.
“Islanders clearly should be consulted on what they think of the service and if the government are serious about climate change, they, along with the SIC, need to think of ways to reduce the enormous SIC spending on diesel for the ferries,” she said.
Independent candidate Ryan Thomson, meanwhile, called for “real action” in reaching a conclusion of the ‘fair funding’ for Shetland’s inter-island ferries.
The council has received extra funding from the Scottish Government in the last couple of years to put towards covering the cost of the internal ferries, but the money has fallen short of the full ask.
For this financial year the council received £5.2 million, despite the council asking for £7.9 million.
“The consequences for the Scottish Government once again failing to deliver on their promise doesn’t bear thinking about,” Thomson said.
In reference to a desire from Wills to see foot fares on council ferries become free of charge, the candidate said that if the “government don’t fund our ferries properly and fairly, there will be significant less journeys to have free foot passengers on – that’s the hard truth”.
“I would hope any policy to implement free foot passenger fares would be fully funded by the government, with the burden not falling on the Shetland Islands Council, who because the government have yet to deliver on the promise of fair funding made three years ago, and subsequently many more times since, cannot afford to lose that level of income which would run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds,” Thomson said.
There are ten candidates contesting the Shetland by-election on 29 August.
They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Michael Stout (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).
Read more about all ten candidates at our special Shetland by-election page at: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/features/election-2019/