20th November 2018
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Ferry deal ‘a cock-up that turned into a cover-up’

6 comments, , by , in Headlines, News

The Scottish government has been accused of a cover-up after failing to answer questions about its decision to award the 2012 Northern Isles ferry contract to Serco, The Shetland Times can exclusively reveal.

The accusation comes amid claims the then publicly-owned NorthLink Ferries had undercut the multinational operator.

This week it was said NorthLink had offered a lower financial bid in the run-up to the new contract, but an envelope containing details of its pitch was returned to the company without even being opened – leading to one industry insider slamming the decision as “a cock-up that turned into a cover-up.”

Now, Labour’s shadow transport and islands minister, David Stewart, has criticised the SNP-led authority for dragging its heels in providing information following concerns the Scottish government had “wrongly” dismissed NorthLink’s bid as “non-compliant” under the tendering process.

In all, four bids were received for the Northern Isles ferry contract: Northlink Ferries Ltd, Serco, Shetland Line and P&O.

But an industry source said the detailed price of the NorthLink bid was returned without its seal having been broken.

A request by The Shetland Times for an interview with current Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, was turned down.

Instead, a comment was provided attributed only to “a spokesman”. It insisted the tendering process had been carried out properly.

“NorthLink Ferries’ quality submission did not meet the minimum requirements set out in the invitation to tender and therefore their financial submission was returned to them unopened.”

• For the full story, see this week’s Shetland Times, on sale now.

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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6 comments

  1. Ali Inkster

    Aye Aye, SSnp screw wis again. Maybe you should ask Danus if he is allowed to comment on this.
    For all those thinking of voting SSnp, think again.

    Reply
    • Danus Skene has responded and is quoted in today’s Shetland Times. The above article is an abridged version.

      Reply
    • Grant Redfern

      Ali,

      You do know you can make a comment and criticise, quite rightly, where you feel it is warranted, without unnecessary, out of touch and uneducated jibes; some people might listen if you do. I don’t mean to offend but by writing things like “SSnp” you are losing any credibility while making your point and it is actually extremely hypocritical (and very offensive) to accuse the SNP and its followers of misleading the public while you are comparing them to the Nazis party; making your comment above laughable to be honest.

      Reply
  2. John Tulloch

    This is extraordinary, the holders of the contract, who I know from personal experience, provided a high quality service, entered a bid whose quality was so lacking that their lower offer was ruled out, without, even, being opened!

    Were they informed of their failing and if so, why would they not act to address it with their new bid? Perhaps, it was addressed?

    If not, why weren’t they told?

    What was this ‘quality failing’?

    Reply
    • John Jamieson

      There seems to be a lack of understanding of the tendering process, NorthLink’s bid was rejected as it failed to meet the conditions laid down for the service in the tender documents. Whether this was right or wrong can be debated but the price issue does affect the outcome as the tender did not reach that stage in the process.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Sorry, this was a quarter of a billion pound contract, ostensibly, ‘competitive dialogue’ tendering. It simply isn’t possible to ‘hide behind the skirts’ of “the process”.

        The encumbent supplier was already delivering a high quality service, what was it their bid lacked that disqualified them?

        Had “the process” changed, materially, since Northlink was awarded the contract last time around?

        Who designed “the process”? The Scottish government, perhaps?

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