‘Maelstrom’ ahead for Uist and Harris

Businesses in Uist and Harris are considering closing down for the six month period of massive ferry disruption caused by the closure of the Uig terminal on Skye for linkspan replacement work.

By Brian Wilson
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 8:57 am
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 8:57 am
Harris councillor Grant Fulton says the continuing problems with the ferry, and lack of action, is making residents feel "abandoned" and "marginalised".
Harris councillor Grant Fulton says the continuing problems with the ferry, and lack of action, is making residents feel "abandoned" and "marginalised".

This has been claimed by the chairman of Harris Development Limited, Kenny Macleod, as anger grows about the refusal by the Scottish Government to fund reasonable arrangements which might provide alternative cover for the islands during the unprecedently long period of disruption.

Mr Macleod wrote: “Having the works arranged in such a way as to facilitate the continued operation of the lifeline ferry service should have been the default position, and one that a government that cared for its island communities would have insisted on.”

He added: “Businesses are already looking at plans for closing down because they cannot continue to trade as a result of the planned 24-week minimum closure. The same is true for Uist which is looking at a two thirds reduction in its freight capacity.”

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Recent attention has focused on the option of a floating linkspan to cover the period of closure. However, this has been ruled out on cost grounds.

Mr Macleod said a recent letter sent by Alasdair Allan MSP to the Scottish government “does not in any way reflect the actual demands of the Harris and Uist communities who are going to be so seriously impacted”.

He told the MSP: “We ask that you put the needs of your constituents ahead of protecting the government from any criticism for decisions that so clearly and negatively impact on our fragile communities".

Independent Harris councillor, Grant Fulton, has written an open letter to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in the same vein. It is printed in full in this week’s Gazette.

He tells Ms Sturgeon: “The complete lack of care, compassion and any sense of urgency regarding our current situation and the coming maelstrom due to the complete closure is staggering and bewildering”.

Mr Fulton writes: “CalMac themselves are hamstrung by CMAL... Transport Scotland and ultimately the Scottish Government are treating each and every resident of Harris with contempt and derision”.