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Robbie Drummond, the Chief Executive of CalMac, will visit South Uist next week `’to discuss concerns about local ferry connections and spend time with local staff,” the firm announced this’d afternoon (Wednesday June 7)

Mr Drummond plans to visit local stakeholders to talk about how disruption to the Lochboisdale ferry service is affecting them.

Mr Drummond said: “The South Uist community is understandably angry that their ferry connections have been cancelled this year, including the recent removal of the Lochboisdale-Mallaig service.

“This decision has clearly affected people living in the area, as shown by the holding of a public protest at Lochboisdale port. While we have increased sailings on alternative routes, we recognise that the cancellation is an inconvenience to local people, businesses, and visitors.

“I will be in Lochboisdale to meet local representatives on Monday so that I can listen to the concerns of local residents and businesses, and I hope be able to explain the alternative options we have considered, as well as how our route prioritisation matrix helps us to arrive at these extremely tough decisions.”

The Lochboisdale service has been cancelled until 30 June as its regular vessel, MV Lord of the Isles, has been moved to Islay while MV Finlaggan is off on annual maintenance. Islay’s other vessel, MV Hebridean Isles, is currently off service being repaired.

“I am confident that MV Finlaggan will complete annual maintenance as planned by 26 June so that MV Lord of the Isles can return to the Lochboisdale-Mallaig service at the latest from 1 July. In the meantime, there is capacity for passengers travelling to and from South Uist via the Sound of Barra and Lochmaddy, which have additional sailings. Displaced Lochboisdale traffic will be prioritised on those routes.”

Mr Drummond added: “Our team has employed independent experts and the original engine manufacturer to work with us to get MV Hebridean Isles back into service and we will recommence the Lochboisdale service before 1 July if the vessel is available before the return of the MV Finlaggan.

CalMac has also committed to work with the Ferries Community Board and local communities including South Uist to reassess the current measures to prioritise vessel deployments across the network during times of disruption.