The Scottish government spent around £25,000 on consultants to study the potential impact of its now abandoned plan to cut £1 million from NorthLink’s budget, it emerged today.
Civil servants hired in BM Consulting and Reference Economic Consultants to share the burden of the work. Transport minister Stewart Stevenson announced last week that a better than expected performance by the company meant no savings would be sought this year.
The figure was revealed by Mr Stevenson in his reply to a parliamentary question from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who immediately described the money as “wasted spending”.
Mr Scott said the minister also disclosed that the internal costs of his civil servants working on the study were not budgeted for, being covered by “normal ferry contract management activities and ongoing engagement with the local communities served”.
Mr Scott said: “So another £25,000 is wasted by a government which lectures everyone that they must be more efficient. But the government is incapable of doing anything without spending money on advice from people who know nothing about ferries, and even less about island life and the Shetland economy.
“Despite spending, and wasting, £25,000 on this study, no economic impact was done on the SNP’s damaging proposals to cut our lifeline shipping services. That simply illustrates how chaotic and irresponsible this government is.
“Next time the transport minister gets similar ill-considered ideas for changes to our lifeline ferry links, he should put them at once to ZetTrans. They would, I am sure, politely advise the minister by return that the plans were damaging and unworkable, and they would do this without charging a penny.”