Arran Banner Letters, week 04, 2021

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Ferry fiasco


It’s a few weeks now since the RECC published its damning report into the procurement process for the two ferries. By any judgment, this report was highly critical of all involved. So, where are we now?

Derek McKay, now discredited, but responsible for transport at the time, remains a fully paid, pensioned and presumably expense-claiming MSP. As far as I am aware, he has avoided any responsibility for his involvement in the contract. His department, however, had overall charge of the whole contract.

Similarly, CMAL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Scottish government, in charge under the government of assessing the various tenders, overseeing the building delivery, very heavily criticised in the report, remains intact as far as I am aware under the same management presumably still overseeing vessel procurement contracts.

The result of this procurement process is dual-fuel ships of extremely doubtful overall green credentials given the distance and diesel needed to get the gas fuel to the ferry terminals in Ardrossan and Skye from South England.

Three-plus weekly diesel tanker return journeys to each port, not including bringing the fuel from source in the Middle East. In fairness, that could be as a result of political input, rather than CMAL choice. And designed too big to fit their planned ports.

Ardrossan apparently needs a further £60m spent with a three-year delay, never mind the associated costs on the Uig triangle ports. What about the £30m spent on the new Brodick terminal where the pier is not fit for purpose? How could that happen? I haven’t read or heard of any sackings, redundancies or terminations, so I would assume the RECC report didn’t impact much, if at all, on CMAL.

Caledonian MacBrayne, the fleet operator, claimed it would work with the ships that were being built for it, but reading between the lines it seems it would not have gone for the dual-fuel option as tits preference but felt it had no choice.

Ferguson Marine is also criticised;  it was placed into administration and all the management have gone, so at least there have been some consequences.

I was one of the Arran people who went to the launch. The first minister and the replacement transport minister Hamza Youssef were in attendance, taking credit for resurrecting Clyde shipbuilding, and then posing for lots of selfies.

I haven’t heard a squeak from either about the contract since or any detail regarding the cost of saving the yard. I did, however, see that Hamza Youssef was promoted to his new position as justice secretary, quote, ‘because he had done such a good job at transport’.

So, £200m-plus lost, no ships completed, no-one to blame, or accepting responsibility, and compliant, long suffering taxpayers used as a money tree to keep fully supporting these failed institutions.

I may be wrong, but I think things would have gone differently if the contract had been awarded in the private sector to a company experienced in designing and building dual-fuelled vessels. And with the financial strength to complete the contract.

At least there would have been financial contract delivery penalties and presumably employment consequences for any incompetence. We might even already have ships that sail and fit their designated ports and all at the cost quoted.


Archie Cumming



Fox Appeal


The Scottish SPCA is preparing for fox cub season by appealing to animal lovers in Scotland to donate much-needed food to its National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity had its busiest ever year in 2019 with more than 11,000 wildlife casualties admitted.

The pandemic caused quite a significant drop in the number of animals arriving at the wildlife hospital. More than 7,000 wild animals were brought to the centre in 2020.

As we are entering fox cub season, we are appealing for Pedigree puppy food and puppy milk. Last year, we cared for 76 foxes and 39 of those were fox cubs. It can be a struggle to keep up with so many hungry mouths to feed.

We expect to be even busier with admissions this year so we need help from members of the public.

If anyone can help with food for these young mammals, we would appreciate anything that people can spare.

Puppy meat can be purchased from the wildlife centre’s Amazon wishlist:


Kirsty Morrison

Senior Communications Officer, Scottish SPCA


Scot’s tongue


Whit a richt trate it wis tae read the article by Marion McRorie scrived in oor ain guid Scot’s tongue. Wud there be oony chance o’ a few mair owre the next year? It wid fair help keep the leed alive. Unless yer ower-thrang wi’ reporting CalMac’s activities.

PS. Ma spell checker is guan doolally wi’ this!


John Connell