Ground Rules for Lochboisdale- Mallaig Ferry ?
13 August 2008
Peter Peacock, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, is pressing the Scottish Government to tell local people when it plans to make a decision on the proposed Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry route and what is the status of the latest consultation on the issue.
Mr Peacock has tabled questions in the Scottish Parliament to seek clarity on the exact aims of the community consultation set to start in September and when the Minister will make a decision.
"There is local concern that this latest consultation is a delaying tactic and I want the government to be clear with everyone as to the aim of the consultation – is it to gauge demand for the service – or is it to determine the best timetable?
"There have already been very clear indications of support locally and it is important to know if the government accepts that demand exists.
"While the government dither over this local people are missing out on the opportunity for an improved transport system and a boost to the economy.
"I have also asked some further questions about the legalities surrounding the use of any operator other than CalMac to provide a ferry service and whether the government itself has taken formal or informal expressions of interest in operating a service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig, as they are now saying this would be necessary if another operator were to be involved.
"Everyone needs absolute clarity on the ground rules here and my questions are designed to help tease this out as every new twist and turn emerges in this saga," said Mr Peacock.
"It would be great to think there could be an easy consensus on every detail of the service – if it were that easy it would probably have become apparent by now.
"In the final analysis progress will depend upon the Minister making a decision.
"He is no doubt praying his decision can be popular with everyone, but such decisions seldom are.
"The Minister needs to make his mind up and get on with commissioning the new service and he shouldn’t count on this latest consultation saving him from any difficult decisions."
Here are the questions Peter Peacock has put down in Parliament.
To Ask the Scottish Executive whether following a number of community initiatives to demonstrate support it believes a clear community demand is apparent for a new ferry service from Lochboisdale to Mallaig serving South Uist and Barra.
To Ask the Scottish Executive what is the status of the community consultation currently underway in South Uist and Barra concerning ferry services and as set out recently by Councillor Manford, Western Isles Council.
To Ask the Scottish Executive whether the current consultation in South Uist and Barra concerning ferry services is to determine demand for a Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry route, or to seek an appropriate timetable for the new service.
To Ask the Scottish Executive when ministers expect to make a decision on the proposed new ferry route from Lochboisdale to Mallaig.
To Ask the Scottish Executive whether there is any domestic legal impediment or European Union regulation which would prevent there being a publicly subsidised ferry service run by another operator, other than CalMac, between Lochboisdale and Mallaig.
To Ask the Scottish Executive whether during the last 15 months the Minister for Transport has taken advice or considered seeking expressions of interest in operating a publicly subsidised ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig, or proceeding through public tender to secure offers to run a subsidised ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig.
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