Daily newspapers coming in by ferry from today

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From today (Monday 8th) daily newspapers which previously reached the island by freight plane, will be delivered to Lewis and Harris, as well as the Uists, by passenger ferry.

As revealed in the Stornoway Gazette last week, due to increased freight plane costs due to take effect publishers have taken the decision to transport newspapers by passenger ferry.

They were unable to consider taking the option of the freight ferry because it leaves too early to meet print times.

This will see papers hit the news stands after 2pm in Stornoway and even later in more remote parts of the island.

Sales in daily newspapers on the islands are predicted to fall, raising concern from local retailers.

Philip Murray of Maclean Mair Nicolson Co Ltd, which distributes newspapers throughout Lewis and Harris said: “It will be 1.10pm when the ferry comes in, I can’t see the papers hitting the shelf until 2.15pm in Stornoway. We will make every effort so the distribution will be done as soon as possible.

“We will be making an effort and the Newspaper Distribution committee have also agreed to fund two additional vehicles to ensure supplies are delivered as quickly as possible.”

Mr Murray explained that in Tarbert, Harris, he expected papers would arrive at about 3pm, and even later for the South of Harris. While in Uig, Lewis, if papers travelled on the school bus they would arrive just before 5pm on some days, although he didn’t rule out making alternative arrangements.

He continued: “What we’d have liked to see happen is to bring them in with the mail, but that’s not viable from a security point of view we’ve been told.

Mr Murray recalled a similar situation with newspaper distribution about two years ago when Highland Airways folded. For a three week period daily newspapers were delivered by ferry, and sales suffered.

“We’ve experienced this before,” he said, “and we know what sort of impact it will have on sales. All round it is not a good situation.”

A representative of the Scottish Distribution Committee said: “We understand that this will be seen as a backwards step,however as collective publishers we cannot justify the proposed increases due to be applied by Loganair.”

A Loganair spokesperson did not wish to discuss the details of the price of the freight aircraft and stated: “The contract in place for the carriage of newspapers is a commercial arrangement between Loganair and their customer.”