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Ferries

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 6th November 2019.

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Photo of John Finnie John Finnie Green

Presiding Officer,

“It is the role of the Government to provide the long term strategy for continuing to meet the needs of the communities that rely on ferry services.”

Those are not my words but those of CalMac, in its submission to the REC Committee. It also said:

“Between 2012 and 2017 the number of cars carried has grown by 37% to 1.43m per year and passenger numbers have risen by 17% to 5.2 million per year.”

In the same submission, CalMac said:

“Despite many Trust, local authority or privately-owned ports to which CalMac operates accruing millions of pounds in berthing duties, it is not clear how this income has been re-invested in ports.”

That is very important, because Mr Greene used the term “our docks”. This is a very complicated situation. I understand that you want to slag off the whole approach over a lengthy period, and I understand that the Government wants to say that everything is as positive as it can be. However, I have to pull you up for saying that the Government is unwilling to apologise, given that the Government’s amendment is explicit in acknowledging the inconvenience that has been caused.

I will also pick up on something that my colleague Colin Smyth said. CalMac states:

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of lifeline ferry services to the long-term economic sustainability of remote and vulnerable island communities.”

I am very proud to represent such communities, and it will not surprise you that, in recent months, I have used ferries on a number of occasions. On each occasion, the ferry was perfectly on time, the staff were courteous and the service was very efficient. Of course—