Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee Report
The independent Ferries Community Board very much welcomes the publication of a report by the Scottish Parliament's Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee into the construction and procurement of ferry vessels in Scotland.
Our Board had the opportunity on two occasions to give evidence to the Committee's inquiry and we are pleased our submissions are accurately reflected in the report particularly around community and stakeholder engagement in all parts of the process.
We are pleased the report highlights not only the loss of four years in time and the loss of £100 million that could have done so much more to modernise the network, but also recognises the real effects on our economies, communities and individuals. This is particularly relevant to tackling depopulation, access to lifeline services and people's life choices particularly the young.
We must move forward from the recommendations of the report and put ferry users and communities at the heart of strategic planning and investment decision making.
The report refers to the tripartite approach to investment decisions we would contend that in future one essential part of that is community input in a formal and recognised way. We note that Transport Scotland have previously advised of a review of stakeholder engagement which we fully support and are keen to be part of that work.
We very much welcome the commitment in the Programme for Government for significant new investment in our ferry networks. There is much work to be done. Through our regular contact with CMAL they have highlighted that there is a minimum of 19 CalMac vessels in need of replacement in the next ten years. After the two vessels at Port Glasgow a new vessel for Islay is being planned. The community engagement process with CMAL for this new vessel has been honest, open and helpful and should be a template for building a more inclusive approach for the future.
We must now look forward to how we can do things better in the future. The report recognises the crucial importance of our ferry services to our islands. This is for our economies, our lifeline services and for people to make a meaningful and viable life in our islands particularly our young people.
We as a board will continue to engage with all parties and do our part to reinforce the views and aspirations of our island communities. We would urge the Scottish Government and its agencies to take this opportunity to put these views and aspirations at the heart of its decision making and jointly deliver a more ambitious and cost effective and above all, fit for purpose ferry network.
Chair, Ferries Community Board
15th December 2020
Notes to Editors:
The Ferries Community Board was established as an independent body in 2017 as a key initiative in CalMac Ferries Ltd bid for the 2016-2024 Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract. The Board currently has 13 voluntary Members representing communities from Kintyre to Lewis led by Lewis based Chairman, Angus Campbell. The Board meets quarterly and has a number of sub-groups covering a range of topics and initiatives and fully supports the popular CalMac Communities Fund which provides grants to community organisations across the network.
To read more of the role and work of the Board see https://www.calmac.co.uk/ferries-community-board