Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has supplied Scottish Transport Minister Kevin Stewart with an amended ferry timetable they have devised to avoid shutting down Lochboisdale’s lifeline service for a month.
Speaking in the wake of CalMac’s decision to remove the MV Lord of the Isles from the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route from today (Saturday, June 3), Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure, hit out: “Senior individuals at CalMac consistently tell the people of Uist how difficult decisions to cancel services are and how hard they are working to find alternative solutions. However, in practice, they consistently opt for the easy option with no evidence of thought or consideration for those affected.”
The timetable the Comhairle produced yesterday (Friday) was billed as a solution using CalMac’s currently operational fleet to “provide a service that meets every island’s lifeline needs equitably and imaginatively for this temporary period.”
CalMac is currently planning on leaving Lochboisdale without a ferry service from today until Friday, June 30, stoking fears of damage to businesses and the local quality of life.
On Wednesday (May 31) CalMac announced that the MV Lord of the Isles would be removed from the Lochboisdale to Mallaig crossing from June 3 to June 30. This decision will deprive communities in Uist of a lifeline ferry service, causing unacceptable damage to businesses and the general quality of life.
Cllr Uisdean Robertson added: “This timetable is evidence that there are solutions available to CalMac, solutions that they have either been unable to identify or been unwilling to action.
“The people of Uist cannot wait for new ferries, structural reform, or a change of approach from CalMac the people of Uist need action now to reverse a decision that infringes on basic rights and will cause yet more financial and personal damage to this island community.”
The Comhairle did not provide a link to their alternative ferry timetable.
Meanwhile, Harris councillor Grant Fulton has lodged a Freedom of Information request regarding the fines imposed on CalMac.
It is thought the penalties issued by Transport Scotland now amount to around £4.4 million.
Councillor Fulton wants to know where the money raised by the fines has been allocated and used.