Gazette Letters - We Want A Ferry

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I see that the local SNP are facing two ways about our problems with the ferries being full.

Dr Wilson says there are no problems with the ferry being full, while Alasdair Allan MSP says on the same day that the Scottish Government has been aware of the ferry being full but can’t find a way to do anything about it.

He also says the current ferry is bigger than the last one - it is for cars but smaller for people.

There is no mention of the problem travellers are experiencing now. I know of people who had booked their accommodation for Hebcelt but had to cancel because they couldn’t get a booking on the ferry.

Another Hebcelt couple, who, because of plane problems at Gatwick last week, missed the morning ferry in Ullapool on Wednesday and were told by Calmac they couldn’t travel to Stornoway until the following Sunday and they were only foot passengers.

I know of a couple who tried to get off the island as foot passengers a few weeks ago and were told by Calmac that they couldn’t travel for another two days.

I am hearing in the last couple of days that local people are trying to get off the island and in some instances Calmac are suggesting they put their car on the ferry to Ullapool and they travel over the following day.

The suggestion, by Calmac, I think, that it’s only during Hebcelt week that the problem exists, is, in my view, nonsense.

It is worth mentioning that Calmac have things to learn as well. To be told by someone in a Calmac office that there is no space on the ferry and then for the helpful Calmac staff in Stornoway to confirm otherwise is shambolic. Factual information is not a lot to ask for. Perhaps its time for some of the jobs currently based in Gourock to be relocated to one of the ports in the Western Isles. It is also a bit ironic for this link to be on the Calmac website.

Time is long overdue for action rather than hot air, diversion and venom directed at anyone from another political party who publicises a problem.

The quickest things would be to improve the monitoring of the booking system to see how many people are being turned away from travel and to hire a freight ferry over the summer months – the stories of ferries being fully booked is not just on the Stornoway run – it happens all down the west coast. Many hoping to go to the forthcoming Eilean Dorcha Festival are finding out they are unable to get there.

If our elected member seems to think that speaking out about our library service is more important than sorting out our ferry crisis then it is time for the residents of the Western Isles to take the matter into their own hands. In order to kick start the process I would love to hear from you.

I would particularly welcome from you, details of difficulties you have experienced with your booking(s) this year. Please send your correspondence by email to

Alistair Maclennan