Freight charges drop

Council ferry bosses are to cut charges for transporting boxes of milk, bread and newspapers after a complaint that island shopkeepers could be put out of business by a six-fold price hike.

Yesterday the inter-island ferries board agreed to return to the old system with a £155-a-year flat charge for small parcels if they are placed on a ferry by the supplier and picked up by the shopkeeper at the other side without requiring ferrymen to do anything. The system had been changed for this financial year after pressure from auditors.

But councillors accept that profit on basic items like milk is low and could be more than swallowed up by the higher charges, possibly becoming the difference between vital local shops staying open or closing down, which could leave some islands without a shop.

The concession is open to any island-based retailer, restaurant of cafe and is expected to cost the council about £1,144 a year in lost income.

  • The SIC is shortly to look at how to replace the Fair Isle ferry Good Shepherd IV. Transport head Michael Craigie confirmed yesterday the task was now on his department’s work programme.

He was responding to a request from South Mainland councillor Rick Nickerson who said the 22-year-old boat was getting old and replacing it should be the subject of an early study under the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidelines (Stag), which councils are obliged to adhere to.


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