24th April 2018
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Assurances sought over ferry contract

Politicians have been reacting to news that the current NorthLink ferry contract has been extended by 18 months amid plans by the Scottish government to consider bringing ferry services to and from the isles “in-house”.

Assurances are being sought that the decision to extend the agreement with Serco from April next year to October 2019 will not impact on the service.

It comes as the Scottish government has said that it will look into running the Northern Isles services itself, depending on public support for the proposals and clearance around state-aid rules.

The extension was confirmed after previous suggestions that an extension would form part of the ferry contracts procurement review.

Isles MSP Tavish Scott branded the ministerial statement on ferry services procurement “disappointing”. The statement confirmed that no decision has, as yet, been made on whether to make a direct contract for the Northern Isles services, or to continue tendering.

Mr Scott said: “It is disappointing that despite the clear views from Orkney and Shetland in favour of tendering, the government have not made a decision.

Tavish Scott

“Local people, the freight industry and business see many advantages to tendering in service improvements that benefit Shetland.

“The current operator Serco Northlink is noticeably quicker at responding to local needs.”

He added: “I do not want to see our lifeline shipping services go backwards. A government run service is no guarantee of a better service.

“I also believe that if the government decide they are the best people to run the North Isles links to Aberdeen, the private sector freight operators will set up in competition.

That is what happened before with Norse Island Ferries and it could happen again.

“The government have yet to announce the outcome of the freight fare review that has been underway for three years. I pressed the Transport Minister today to get on with this and he did acknowledge that a decision is needed.

“I want the government to listen to their own feedback, accept that tendering improves the service on behalf of the islanders who depend on it and get on with tendering the next North Isles contract”.

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, meanwhile, sought similar assurances from Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.

Jamie Halcro Johnston

“With the Serco Northlink contract being extended by 18 months, I sought to ensure that there would be no impact on the service currently provided and that existing commitments by Serco Northlink would be upheld.

“I am pleased that the Minister was able to give these assurances and I will be looking to hold him to those commitments in the coming months and years.

“However this is only the first stage of examining whether the Scottish government brings the Northern Isles ferries in-house rather than putting them out to tender. Ministers have given firm commitments to respect the views of local people before making changes and it is crucial that local people and businesses in Orkney and in Shetland are closely involved in any decision-making process that emerges.”

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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16 comments

  1. David Spence

    Since Serco, are in bed with the Tories, and the Tories are responsible for what monies Scotland receives (I believe the Barnett Formula has been ditched by the Tories, which is bad news for Scotland) I suspect, before and after Brexs*it, Serco, will, more than likely, have the contract for an indefinite period.

    As for Scotland, taking the issue of ferries ‘ in-house ‘, not if Serco and the Tories have anything to say about it.

    So, expect the cost of travelling by ferry to go up immensely once Brex*hit gets in full swing, and Shetlander’s having no civil or otherwise rights against such a large company like Serco, who will have the monopoly on such a deal.

    Remember, the whole mess to do with Brex*hit, is, ultimately, for the Tories to benefit and profit from, and nothing else.

    On a brighter note, atleast you’ll be able to drink yourself into oblivion, make a fool of yourself, harass other’s and get away with it.

    Reply
    • Steven Jarmson

      So, the Scottish gNats awarding the North Boats contract to Secro is the Tories fault?
      When Shetland said NO, the SNP said YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!
      Blasted Tories.. damn Tories… Grrr…Tories…Aarrrgggg..TORIES!!!
      IF the Tories are soooo soooo soooo in bed with Serco…….. why in the name of God (the Christian God)…did the Scottish gNats give SERCO the North contract in the first place???
      Damn Tories.
      DAMN TORIES!!
      Damn snp TARTAN TORIES, never changed.

      Reply
      • David Spence

        Well Steve, 1 year before Serco got the contract, they donnated £1.1 million to the Conservative Party, as well as this, why was one of the tenders for the contract delivered back to the company, unopened?

        In regards to Serco getting the contract, under very suspicious circumstances, if you look at their experience of this type of industry, putting aside MOD work, they have had little or no experience at all……………and yet they still get the contract……..despite other companies tendering for the contract who had years and years of experience.

        So Steve, the monies which Scotland gets is controlled and comes from Westminster (I believe the Conservatives have done away with the Barnett Formula?) ……….do you see a certain picture forming here…………..need I say more? lol

        Just you wait until Brex*hit gets really going, then you really will see the true face of the Tories.

        Why do you think we had a fixed and rigged EU Ref.? Because the Tories were not wanting the EU to get involved in their agenda of a trade agreement with the USA, and the mass privatisation which will take place. Not to mention human and workers rights being abolished.

      • Ali Inkster

        “o Steve, the monies which Scotland gets is controlled and comes from Westminster (I believe the Conservatives have done away with the Barnett Formula?) ……….do you see a certain picture forming here…………..need I say more? ”
        Yes we see a certain picture forming and that is of a deluded individual who has no clue as to the reality of the situation. in answer to your question, no you need say no more we have heard enough of your ranting and raving. 🙂

  2. Steven Jarmson

    Still doesn’t explain anything about why the so called “Scottish” government, the SNP, gave the contract to Serco. No Torie involvement at all, unless this is an admission that the SNP are tartan tories?
    If the other tender was lower, and there’s a squeeze on monies, would it not be more sense for the SNP to poke the tories in the eye and save money all in one go by giving the tender to someone else??
    Surely that makes no sense at to link torie donations to serco getting the north boats??

    Reply
    • David Spence

      Why should there not be a connection between a political party and this of a company, each benefiting from each other by ‘ you scratch by back, I’ll scratch yours ‘.

      Remember Steven, when it comes to dishonesty, deceiving and back-hand dealings, the Tories are the experts of such traits. Capitalism, by its very nature, brings out the worse in human nature because the human made concept of money rules the roost, and the Conservatives worship money more than god.

      It is also worth noting Steven, the Conservatives are hell bent on privatising most state run services to the benefit of themselves and not the country. Brex*hit compounded this more by the Conservatives determination to have a trade agreement with the USA rather than the EU. Why? Replacing a 500 million market with a 300 million market. Does that make any sense? The EU will not be able to interfere in this relationship, hence the fixed and rigged EU Ref.

      This will mean, I suspect, many of the rights we had under the EU, being abolished or changed for the worst, and in favour of corporate companies rather than the citizens of the UK.

      Reply
    • Andrew Hepburn

      Yes, the SNP are indeed tartan Tories.

      Vote Labour.

      Reply
      • Ali Inkster

        Vote labour and get politicians that will happily stand under a flag and ideology that killed over 100 million innocent people.

  3. David Spence

    What Ali, what is the reality of the situation?

    Serco getting the contract was fair and square?
    There is no connection between Serco and the Conservatives?
    That Serco have little experience in this industry, and yet they get the contract?
    Disprove monies for LA’s does not originally come from Westminster?

    Have you really questioned why the Tories had the EU Ref. when they did, and has no connection to tax?

    Isn’t democracy having the right to question and scrutinise our political representatives in what decisions they make on our behalf?

    What is the real reason as to why the contract Serco has been extended to 2019, the same time the UK is supposed to officially leave the EU, despite the possibility this may extend to 2021?

    It is uncharted waters we are going into and many, many people, quite rightly, are questioning the real agenda this government is playing out.

    This government is in a position of complete power and domination due to a very weak opposition in Labour and the Lib Dems, and they are making the most of this to completely transform this country, not for the greater good but for themselves to benefit mostly.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      You seem to be saying that the snp and the tories ar secretly working together to give serco contracts.
      As to the eu referendum and tax why would they want to leave the eu if paying less tax was the objective? they could just register their company in brussels or luxumburg and pay next to no tax, all legal and within eu rules.

      Reply
      • Graham Fleming

        The labour party and 100 million deaths?was t.Blair and p.Mandelson the real British labour party in Iraq, circa 1 million casualties (where does the rest come from).Once the Brexit brats get their way,human rights will be weeched oot da windae and it will be business as normal.The junta will be back – nobody’s safe.

      • David Spence

        No, Ali, I am not implying the SNP are in cahoots with the Tories.

        I would go as far as to say though, the Tories blackmailing the SNP into seeing things their way, giving the contract to Serco, by threatening to cut Scotland’s funds for LA Services, thus politically putting the SNP in an unfavourable position within Scotland.

        Lets not pretend there is no corruption within Politics, especially with the Tories being masters at the negative traits of dishonesty, deception and wasting millions of tax payers money for their own ends in propping up their buddies in the private sector or companies which have taken over government contracts.

        Serco, being fined heavily for over-charging in security matters, and to which they have been given a ‘ no time limit ‘ to pay back this fine.

        There was such a public outrage at Serco, putting in a tender for the Western Islands Ferry Contract, the SNP gave the contract to CalMac, I believe?

        So, would I say the Tories are pulling strings to see things their way within Scotland, YES, is the long and short answer. The Tories are an example of how politics should not be done.

      • Ali Inkster

        Sorry 101 million innocent lives taken by socialists, I forgot to add tony’s million to the count

  4. Christopher Johnston

    To me, the news is that the Scottish Government intends to award the service to themselves (in the guise of CalMac), unless politically forced to take another path. The Serco Northlink extension buys them enough time to get their politics in order. I wonder whether CalMac would be more or less responsive than Serco Northlink. My experience with government monopolies (not in the North Isles) is that they are less responsive, with NHS being an example.

    Reply
    • Graham Fleming

      So the Tories that voted for the second Iraq war are Socialists,Blair and Mandelson are hardly atypical socialists worth €70 and €10 million, where did their wealth come from.Germany through 2 world wars caused casualties of about 30 million ( now the engine of a democratic European Union). The British Empire circa a 150 million deaths in it’s 300 year reign of terror(the Brexit fruitloops hark on about the good old days).

      Reply
      • David Spence

        Graham, when it comes to war and conflict, the Conservatives worship, adore, encourage and endorses such actions because the Banks make huge profits from this. Why do you think the USA Foreign Policy is totally designed to suit their banking system?

        The Banks demonstrate this by allowing millions to be killed, maimed or injured as long as they, the banks, support the Arms Industry, war and conflict, because banks do not care about human life, they only care about killing human life.

        Our present banking system truly represents ‘ For the love of money is the root to all Evils ‘.

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