‘Information withheld’ on ferries delay

The MSP whose committee dubbed the CMAL order for two ferries at the Ferguson yard a “catastrophic failure” has now accused ministers of “withholding vital information”.
Edward Mountain: Island communities needs openness.Edward Mountain: Island communities needs openness.
Edward Mountain: Island communities needs openness.

Highlands and Islands Tory MSP, Edward Mountain, returned to the fray after being told replies to his questions under Freedom of Information are “taking longer than expected”. He sought information about revised timelines for delivery of the vessels, one of which, Hull 802, is supposed to take over the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy routes.

A visit by MSPs to the Ferguson yard was pushed back from January to April. Mr Mountain commented: “It’s no secret that vessels 801 and 802 are delayed. However, we are now seeing visits to Ferguson Shipyard delayed and responses to FOI requests delayed too.

“At a time when Island communities need openness and transparency, the SNP Government are attempting to hide their failures for as long as possible. Frankly, this behaviour is pathetic and irresponsible.”

BBC Scotland carried a story last week about the impact of ferry chaos on Barra and threat to jobs at Barratlantic. It reported the Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, was not available for interview over a three day period.

It has emerged through FoI that the new chief executive at Ferguson’s, David Tydeman, could be paid over £300,000 per year including bonus.

A memo marked “sensitive” to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, said that compared to the vast sums paid to former “turnaround director” Tim Hair, “recruiting a new CEO on a fraction of the cost is a presentational advantage”.