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Politics / Wishart questions Sturgeon over ferry capacity

SHETLAND’s new MSP Beatrice Wishart brought ferries to the attention of Nicola Sturgeon during First Minster’s Questions on Thursday.

Wishart, who was elected to the role last week, asked the first minister what her priorities were when it came to addressing capacity issues on the Northern Isles ferries.

“During the by-election the first minister experienced first hand the struggles people in Shetland have with capacity for freight, cabin and cars on our lifeline ferry service to Aberdeen,” the Liberal Democrat said.

“What are her priorities for action?”

Sturgeon, who visited Shetland three times during the recent by-election campaign, congratulated Wishart on becoming the isles’ new MSP.

She also paid tribute to the SNP’s own candidate Tom Wills and what she called his “outstanding result” of reducing the Lib Dem majority in Shetland.

Sturgeon said Wills and others in the by-election campaign put forward some “very sensible” proposals for improving ferry services.

“I look forward to having discussions with Beatrice Wishart and her colleagues as we get towards the budget,” she added.

“And perhaps I can also look forward to the support of Beatrice Wishart in the budget when we continue to deliver for the people of Shetland on all of these matters.”

Speaking after the exchange, Wishart said: “I appreciate the welcome to parliament today from the First Minister, but Shetlanders will remember that there were plenty of warm words from the SNP during the by-election campaign on our lifeline ferry service, including a freeze in fares and increased sailings.

“This Government must show that their promises were not simply bargaining for votes. The response today does not fill me with confidence.

“The community has repeatedly voiced what needs to change to make this service fit for purpose now and into the future. So many issues in the isles arise from problems with our transport services. I wrote the Islands Minister during the campaign to voice these concerns and will continue to hold the Government to account during the parliamentary session.”

Wishart, meanwhile, was sworn in as Shetland’s new MSP on Tuesday.

She remains a councillor for Lerwick South at the current time, although it is possible she could step down from the role.