Whooppee, folks…there's yet another chance coming up to tell the Scottish Government what we'd like from the ferry services.
Yes, we mentioned just a few days ago that HITRANS was trying to find out what we needed, transport-wise (https://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto-3/28232-tell-them-what-we-want-transport-to-do)
Now the real head honchos from the Central Belt want to find out what we want, what we really, really want!
Formally, what they say is that, "following on from the publication of the Project Neptune report, the Transport Minister committed to a full consultation process with communities regarding the effectiveness of the present management structures in delivering our ferry services.
"Presently these functions are done through Transport Scotland regarding policy, CMAL as the asset owner and procurement agent and CalMac as the operator including staffing and maintenance."
They say:"We look forward to hearing your views to help inform proposals for the future organisation structure."
Former leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell who chairs the Ferries Community Board, has been asked to lead "a programme of community engagement sessions to inform further views on the matter."
The Newton Community Rooms in Stornoway has been reserved on Friday 14 April to meet organisations and groups "and we will also make ourselves available for individuals wishing to drop in to share their views." A drop-in session is being scheduled from 2-5pm for individuals wishing to come along, we're told.
They would like to hear the views of communities as to how they feel this present setup delivers for them and what structures are needed to best deliver ferry services across Scotland.
"We want to hear the positive elements of service delivery and the issues that communities feel must be addressed to bring about a better service.
"Questions on vessel designs etc are not part of this work," they sternly admonish us.
Questions will cover key points such as:
- Can the way ferry services are organised be improved to help delivery?
- In what way does the current set up lead to issues?
- What do you think is the best way to organise ferry services?
- What other things can be done to ensure a first-rate ferry service?
They are interested to hear from as many users of the ferry services how future arrangements might bring more effective and responsive provision to those dependent on them.
"We want to hear from as many sections of society as we possibly can including young people, those dependant on ferries for health services, education or employment and also those needing help when travelling. To make this exercise successful your help and participation is welcomed."
Now let's see…looking back to 2012-13 there was unanimity across official and representative organisations in Stornoway and the Isle of Lewis that the way forward for ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool was to build two ferries roughly the size of the MV Isle of Lewis but with an open deck to avoid cargo restrictions. Two ferries. This allowed for the service to run flat-out in the summer and provide cover for itself and others in the winter. What notice did CMAL and Transport Scotland take of that? Absolutely none!! So what do we all think is going to happen this time…
And we might suggest, if we are allowed, that it's a great idea to actually finish constructing some ferries…rather than just create an industrial art form of continual construction!
But then, what do we know?