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Transport / Council introduces social media campaign to press for more ferry funding

Dagalien - one of the two Yell ferries

A SOCIAL media campaign has been launched by the council calling for more investment in its inter-island ferry service.

A new Twitter hashtag ‘#MyFerry’ will be used over the coming weeks, with the support of folk from across the isles whose lives and livelihoods depend on the service.

Case studies have been prepared, and they will be shared with politicians and organisations in support of the campaign.

Among the people included in the case studies are Yell headteacher Jennifer Nisbet, Anderson High School student Karis Leask, who is from Whalsay, and Unst-based businessman Frank Strang.

For the last few years Shetland Islands Council has been given extra funding from the Scottish Government for running its ferry services, but the settlement has continually fallen short.

The youngest ferry in the council fleet is the Dagalien, which is 16 years old. The oldest is the Whalsay ferry Hendra at 38.

The council has also drawn up plans for a replacement Fair Isle ferry and associated harbour works, as well as a new Hendra, but there has been no movement from the government on their funding.

Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts said: “We are highlighting how crucial our ferries are to people in our island communities, to live their lives in the best way they can.

“Our internal ferry services are critical in the support they provide to our economy and we’re hopeful we can persuade the Scottish Government to increase its funding, which we believe is a lifeline for our people as well as an investment for Scotland as a whole.

“What we’re asking for is sufficient funding to preserve the service we have, to upgrade those routes which need it with new vessels and infrastructure, and to take advantage of new technologies to develop our internal links into the future.

“I’d like to emphasise that this is not about any future fixed links, but about the present challenges being faced by our ferry fleet and the wider council finances.

“We’re hoping that the hashtag will be shared widely by our community in the weeks ahead so that people all over the country can see the lifeline these ferries offer us, and the economic opportunities they unlock for Scotland.”