26th May 2018
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Inter-island ferry maintenance and training cut to help meet soaring fuel bill

1 comment, , by , in News

Training and maintenance work on inter-island ferries and their associated infrastructure has had to be cut to help find an extra £500,000 needed to fuel the council’s fleet of vessels.

The move has been made against a backdrop of ever-increasing fuel costs which have outstripped the meagre takings from an increase in fares for passengers to the outer isles by 15 per cent last year.

Today’s meeting of the council’s environment and transport committee heard the hike had failed to bring a significant increase in revenue to the council’s coffers.

Ferry service executive manager Ken Duerden told councillors at the town hall many passengers were choosing to leave their cars at the terminal, while others were sharing one vehicle. That meant there had been only a 10 per cent increase in revenue.

Mr Duerden said maintenance and training costs had been cut to help the service balance its books.

But while the service is expected to break even, he insisted the situation was unsustainable in the long term.

“The biggest problem that we’ve got with the budgets for the current financial year is the increase in fuel price, which is giving us the overspend against budget of something like half a million pounds for the whole year,” he told members.

“We’ve tried to mitigate this as much as possible by cutting back on other items such as training and maintenance of the ferries and terminals, but this can’t continue indefinitely.

“We do have to make sure we stick to the required level of training and maintenance in the near future.”

Earlier in the meeting head of infrastructure Phil Crossland admitted efforts to procure fuel more cheaply for the council were “proving quite difficult”, although he said it was a problem all local authorities faced.

Meanwhile, petrol and diesel are starting to become more affordable than they have been for some time. Some garages in Lerwick have followed the lead taken last week by filling stations in the North Mainland, which introduced the government’s 5p fuel duty reduction scheme early and dropped their pump prices accordingly.  
 

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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One comment

  1. Kevan Brown

    Sir,

    No doubt there will be some who say such things are inevitable and, of course, it’s all due to the mismanagement of previous National Governments.

    We’ve already been told that the poor are so because it’s their fault, by the rich, of course, who might never need to use an inter-island ferry.

    So, presumably, if folk drown, because of lack of maintenance, the same may apply. The islands are such an inconvenient shape too, aren’t they?

    Possibly, generous donors could be found to meet the shortfall from bank chiefs who must have been able to save a crumb or two from previous years of bonuses? There is surely a tax dodge in it for them, if their accountants look hard enough.

    Reply

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