Western Isles MP, Angus MacNeil and Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eiriosgaigh agus Uibhist a Deas Councillor Donald Manford have revealed their disappointment and frustration at Inter-Island timetable changes which they believe will see further travel disruption for people in Uist and Barra.
The new Inter-island Public Service Obligation contract 2017-21, which is operated by Loganair on behalf of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, will begin in April.
Currently passengers can take the 7am sailing from Barra to Eriskay and connect with the 10.05 flight from Benbecula to Stornoway. From April, passengers from Barra will be unable to connect with the new flight departure time of 8.40am.
Presently, passengers from Benbecula can travel seamlessly to Inverness yet from April it appears that passengers will no longer be able to connect with the morning flight to Inverness and will have to endure a wait at Stornoway Airport until 5pm.
Councillor Donald Manford said: “How is it that this council’s political administration, even in its death throes, continues to vandalise transportation connections throughout the Hebrides and beyond?”
“The ongoing dismantling of ‘through transport’ inflicted by this council must be reversed to the services we had prior to the election of this current council.”
Angus MacNeil MP said: “This timetable is unacceptable. We have to remember that four years ago there were good air services for all the Western Isles until the Scottish Government removed ring fencing and councillors at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar opportunistically and shamelessly pockled the extra money that it was given specifically for its smaller island communities. This is a massive breach of trust to both those communities and indeed the Scottish Government, these latest unreal developments add insult to injury to small communities and is a snub to the Scottish Government’s intentions.
“I am calling on the Scottish Government to get a grip of this transport anomaly in the islands and take full control of island flights, as they do ferries, by cutting out the council middle men and fund the services directly.
“It is ironic what is called local Government is not at all local and decisions are being made by those who never use those services or visit the islands concerned, in a manner that undermines islands and population viability.
“All for short term expediency, without even a fig leaf of consideration referencing the effects of decisions.”