First Minister Humza Yousaf has given a lukewarm response to a call for islanders to receive compensation for the ongoing ferry chaos.
Challenged by Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross yesterday (Thursday, June 8) at First Minister’s Question Time, Humza Yousaf insisted the Scottish government understood the impact the disruption caused and would look at what could be done to support businesses.
The First Minister stated: “Of course, we recognise the disruption caused, not just to businesses but of course to island communities who depend on these lifeline services.
“So, we absolutely recognise that impact and that disruption. That’s why we are committed to, for example, ensuring that we have six new vessels in the network by the end of the parliamentary term.”
However, the First Minister avoided any definitive statements on the question of compensation, saying he would keep an “open mind” and pointed out that performance penalties from CalMac are invested back into the network.
Mr Yousaf added: “I’m happy, of course, to re-examine the issue [of compensation], but any such scheme would need to be carefully considered because it then would require a very stark choice to be made about those funding priorities.”
Meanwhile, it emerged that one of the last moves by former Transport Minister Kevin Stewart was to order a rethink into how CalMac organises its ageing ferry fleet.
He told the ferry operator to revisit its Route Prioritisation Matrix following concerns that South Uist was regularly left without ferry services due to disruption elsewhere in the network.
The Transport Minister quit earlier on Tuesday, citing mental health issues, but denied his resignation was linked to the ferry disruption.
Next week, CalMac chief executive Robbie Drummond is scheduled to visit South Uist to discuss the furore over the lack of ferry connections from Lochboisdale.