The group campaigning for the introduction of a new ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig have today (Thursday) expressed their disappointment that the Scottish Government has failed to offer any new telling contribution to the issue during this morning’s debate at Holyrood.
The Missing Link group also roundly rejected the assertion by the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil that a new service would require a capital investment spend of £26million. There is, they say, already a vessel available from within the existing Cal-Mac fleet.
Lochboisdale Community Council chairman Ronnie MacKinnon: “Alex Neil is completely wrong to say that the Government would need to find £26million for a new vessel. They don’t need a new vessel - there is already a spare vessel in the Cal-Mac fleet. The MV Isle of Arran has been sitting idle, docked at Campbeltown for the last fortnight doing nothing. She could easily be deployed on the Lochboisdale Mallaig route at no extra cost.”
Mr MacKinnon also noted Alex Neil’s offer to meet with the Missing Link group. He said: “After numerous written requests a Government minister has finally agreed to meet us. Whilst we welcome the chance to meet with him, we’re disappointed that it won’t happen until after the consultation period has ended. Perhaps now Transport Minister Keith Brown will also agree to meet us - preferably before the consultation deadline expires at the end of the month.”
Group member and Storas Uibhist chairman, Angus MacMillan also questioned Alex Neil’s claims about cost implications and said that the strong economic benefits from a new link would far outweigh concerns about running costs. “The new service that we’re proposing would, as well as being of great benefit to South Uist, also strongly complement the other services running to and from North Uist and Barra and would lead to a much need improvement in the ferry service network for all the island groups including the Inner Isles.”