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SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Election letters 2019 / Where does Wills stand on ferry nationalisation?

It’s been interesting to read SNP candidate Tom Wills’ recent comments on Shetland’s transport requirements.

Shetlanders will be well aware that, come election time, the SNP are happy to casually throw about promises on funding and improvements. But, when the election’s over, promises are often left undelivered.

But that’s an issue for another day. What I would like to know is, with the decision of who gets the contract to run our lifeline links with the south delayed because of the by-election, whether or not Mr Wills believes these routes should be brought in-house by the Scottish Government?

There’s little doubt that Mr Wills’ colleagues in Edinburgh would like to see the Northern Isles’ routes nationalised, with CalMac their operator of choice. The previous transport secretary Humza Yousaf, on one of his high profile/low content day visits to the islands, made that very clear. And, of course, the boats have already been bought by the taxpayer.

That’s a prospect which I know concerns a lot of local people and businesses in Shetland, who are aware of issues with CalMac’s delivery of services in the west, as well as the SNP’s record of state ownership of parts of our transport infrastructure. HIAL’s recent issue with parking charges, delays or cancellations caused by strikes, and plans to centralise air traffic control are just a few examples.

So can Tom Wills tell us, does he support his party’s plans to nationalise the Northern Isles ferry routes? And would he be happy to see CalMac in charge of providing Shetland’s vital passenger and freight links with the south?

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh