MSP Welcomes Additional Sailing for Stornoway Ferry

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Wednesday August 2 2017

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, welcomes the news that an additional sailing has been added to the Stornoway Ullapool route in an attempt to address the severe capacity issues suffered by Islanders, Businesses and tourists.

Calmac have announced that a Saturday evening sailing will now be operated in an attempt to cope.

The MSP said:

“In recent weeks I have met with Martin Dorchester, CEO Calmac Ferries and Brian Fulton, Director Calmac Ferries, written to the Scottish Government Minister, spoken with leaders at CNES and have met with Island Hauliers in an attempt to increase the capacity on the route as Islanders and visitors are being severely affected by the restricted capacity offered by the MV Loch Seaforth.

Mrs Grant added:

“This additional sailing is a small step in the right direction but it should have been brought in earlier as islanders highlighted the problems 3 months ago.

“I also think that calling the demand unprecedented is dangerous as the ferry capacity has been reduced and the MV Loch Seaforth has also replaced the additional freight ferry, this demand is here to stay and is increasing as confirmed by the local Tourism Board which I met last week.

The MSP added:

“The main issue here is that neither the Scottish Government nor Calmac accurately measure the number of “would be” passengers that have attempted to book and cannot due to the ferry being full.

“This statistic is vital as it would easily identify the extent of the problem.

“It is extremely concerning that the Government are turning a blind eye to this and not calling for accurate figures especially given that this is a life line service.

Mrs Grant concluded:

“I will continue the fight for a second ferry, as this was the overwhelming opinion of Islanders, Businesses and experts when the stakeholder consultation occurred prior to the replacement of the MV Isle of Lewis and the MV Clipper Ranger.

“Clearly all these opinions were ignored and a single ferry deployment is now bringing all the problems that were highlighted then, this is now having a seriously detrimental effect on normal Island life, local businesses and the crucial Tourism trade.

“It is imperative that both Calmac and the Scottish Government get together to ensure this suffering does not continue for years to come.

 

 

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