The campaign group Action for Arnish – which is fighting for the future of the fabrication yard on Lewis – has slammed the Scottish Government for “keeping the local community in the dark”.

They were responding to a series of Parliamentary answers to questions tabled by the Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant. The group said they “went out of their way to be unhelpful”.

Asked about the terms of the lease between Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BiFab, business secretary Fiona Hyslop told the MSP it was a “commercial matter” and directed her to the Registers of Scotland web-site.

In response to Ms Grant’s request that “any potential user capable of bringing work to Arnish fabrication yard will have access to it”, Ms Hyslop said only that the Scottish Government would “encourage HIE to discuss this proactively with the BiFab board of directors”.

Ms Grant also asked for a marketing campaign to promote the potential of the Arnish yard to potential users. However, Ms Hyslop dismissed this is an “operational and management matter” for the BiFab board of directors.

Iain MacLeod, a former worker at the yard who chairs Action for Arnish, said: “We are grateful to Rhoda Grant for asking these questions but the answers seem designed to be as unhelpful as possible.

“Not only MSPs but, more importantly, the local community are entitled to information held by the Scottish Government.  To keep referring everything to HIE and BiFab evades that responsibility.

“It seems clear – unless anyone can tell us differently - that BiFab have no interest in bringing work to Arnish. We are entitled to know when and how the lease can be terminated in order to allow the yard to be offered to other users.

“Instead of offering information, these answers continue to keep the local community in the dark about what the Scottish Government and HIE have negotiated in terms of Arnish and its availability to other users”.

Mr MacLeod said that Action for Arnish would now seek meetings with Ms Hyslop and senior figures within Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

THE FULL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will commit to ensure that any potential user capable of bringing work to the Arnish fabrication yard will have access to it.

S5W-32717Fiona Hyslop: We would encourage the landlord Highlands & Ikslands Enterprise to discuss this proactively with BiFab Board of Directors and management, who are the current leaseholders of the yard.

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to initiate a marketing campaign to promote the merits of Arnish fabrication yard to potential users.

S5W-32715Fiona Hyslop: This is an operational and management matter and would therefore be for the BiFab Board of Directors to consider.

Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government what the principal terms are of the sub-lease of the Arnish fabrication yard by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to DF Barnes/BiFab.

S5W-32716Fiona Hyslop: The terms of the lease would be a commercial matter between Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the BiFab Board of Directors. Further details of how to obtain a copy of the lease can be found on the Registers of Scotland website - https://www.ros.gov.uk/services/order-documents#registerofdeeds