Petition launched for fairer ferry deal

A new petition has been launched calling for the Scottish government to cut ferry fares to the Northern Isles – despite the SNP failing to win either the Orkney or Shetland seat.

Isles man Ryan Thomson says fares on Shetland’s lifeline services have increased by 31 per cent, while those in the Western Isles have been reduced by half.

Earlier this year, calls were made by the Liberal Democrats to reduce fares. Mr Thomson believes a similar petition without any connection to a political party would add special emphasis to the call.

The SNP pledged to cut ferry fares if they won the Shetland seat in the Scottish parliamentary elections. Lib Dem candidate Tavish Scott won the seat anyway. But Mr Thomson says fares should still be examined by the newly elected minority SNP government, regardless of who represents the isles at Holyrood.

“The Scottish government, in their manifesto for the Shetland Isles, promised to cut the ferry fares for our lifeline service if they won the Shetland seat in the Scottish Parliament Elections in May 2016,” he said.

“Despite them failing to win the seat, I call on them to continue with their promise.

“Shetland’s lifeline service has increased 31 per cent whilst the Western Isles has seen their ferry fares decrease 50 per cent.

“Shetland should not be paying more in lifeline ferry fares then anyone else in Scotland. – RYAN THOMSON

“Shetland should not be paying more in lifeline ferry fares than anyone else in Scotland We are a part of Scotland and all we ask is to be offered the same level of service as other island groups.

“This petition is designed to show the Scottish government that Shetlanders should have equal parity with the rest of Scotland and is not designed to be a protest campaign against any political party.
hjaltland new
“I understand there is an alternative petition on this subject however I believe a petition without any connection to a political party would emphasise more the feeling of dissatisfaction within our communities at having unfairly seen our ferry fares increase whilst they are being cut in other parts of Scotland.

“Please sign this petition to increase the pressure on the Scottish government to reduce our lifeline ferry fares.”

The petition can be found on the website on


Add Your Comment
  • Councillor Jonathan Wills

    • May 9th, 2016 7:39

    Despite our MSP saying we are “Not for Nicola”, the future level of ferry fares was already being discussed by the Scottish Government and Shetland Islands Council, long before the recent election campaign began. These discussions continue and the Scottish Government has commissioned a study by independent experts which will report later this year. Councillors and other local organisations gave evidence to this study a few weeks ago. So the petitioners will be supporting a process that is already under way, with all-party support.
    Whether Tavish Scott’s provocative and triumphalist remarks about the First Minister, at the election declaration, will have any effect on this seems unlikely.

    • iantinkler

      • May 9th, 2016 10:09

      Do I detect sour grapes from Jonathan, a graceless loser! Just for interests sake, a comment from Shetland SNP Facebook, website: ” SNP should make Shetland suffer then ask what has tavish done to help Shetland.” Nice people the SNP.

    • Ali Inkster

      • May 9th, 2016 10:15

      Been working on it for several years? yet somehow still not managed to reduce fares by the same margins that they were reduced in the western isles. All I can say to that Jonathan is it should of been sorted before now. When are you going to wake up to the fact that you are getting fobbed off while the snp picks wis clean. The trust reforms you are shouting about who instigated them and who appointed the instigator?

      • Robert Sim

        • May 9th, 2016 13:35

        “All I can say to that Jonathan is it should of been sorted before now. ” By the MSP, Ali?

      • Ali Inkster

        • May 9th, 2016 15:01

        Yet again Wrobert you insist that your snp government will only work in Shetlands interest if we only vote snp. So much for governing for the whole of Scotland. Better aff clear a da lot a da dem.

    • Robert Sim

      • May 9th, 2016 10:23

      Thanks for the note of sanity, Jonathan, and the reminder of the Scottish Government’s important role in listening and working with the SIC.

      • iantinkler

        • May 9th, 2016 14:34

        Robert Sim. Nippy is the one with the power here. Nine years of SNP and she has pledged to look at the ferry fares! Even discussed them according to Wills!! Nine years of SNP for that. As soon as Shetland gets shot of the all centralising SG/SNP, the better. Great result though, democracy in action.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • May 9th, 2016 20:46

        Erm…How does that work exactly Ian? Where does AliC work? Where does Tavish work? What on earth are you talking about? Your ‘democracy in action’ seems to be a complete contradiction to what you’re saying? Your ‘great result’ is selecting an MP/MSP that are both representing the ‘central governments’ that you keep banging on about.

    • John Tulloch

      • May 9th, 2016 14:44

      Jonathan, how is your campaign to save the charitable trust from the “Undemocrats” going?

      Couldn’t the SIC put a stop to these shenanigans by saying simply that, if the trust follows the undemocratic route, it will not participate as landlord in the Viking Energy project?

      After all, councillors are still democratically accountable, are they not?

    • Ryan Thomson

      • May 11th, 2016 11:39

      Hi Jonathan,

      The fact our prices have been increasing year on year while other island groups fares decrease leads me to think that the Scottish Government have absolutely no intention on reducing our fares in the near future. They could easily have done so long before now. The promise was made by the First Minister on her visit to Shetland to look into reducing our ferry fares. No real commitment to do so. She also promised to “keep fares fair” when they have never been fair to Shetlanders.

      The petition is for the benefit of both Shetlanders and Orcadians to make sure we start receiving the same level of fair cuts as other island groups receive. At the time of writing the Facebook campaign page has had over 850 likes (in under 1 day) and the Petition has been signed 700 times in under 4 days. This shows the strength of feeling across our communities and outwith our islands.

      Unfortunately Jonathan injustice for rural communities is something you’ve shown very little regard for in the past and it is unsurprising to not receive your support for this campaign, something which will do nothing but help Shetlanders financially in the future.

  • Johan Adamson

    • May 9th, 2016 9:08

    The usual arguments and the RET calc leave out the fact you need a cabin on the Shetland Aberdeen route and the Orkney to Shetland return as it is overnight, so the true cost to a family with a car is much greater than they think.

    There is something wrong when you can cross the Forth for nothing but we have to pay to get to Bressay. Orkney is even worse where ferries to their isles are much more expensive and less frequent. We need free fixed links like Skye and the Forth.

    • jonathan Wills

      • May 9th, 2016 16:09

      I agree with that point, Johan, and so do all councillors, I imagine. That is why we are talking to the Scottish Government about solutions. It is indeed more complicated than RET for the Western Isles and a solution will take time and cost a lot of public money. No doubt Tavish will play his part in making the case, along with the other Highlands and Islands MSPs from various political parties.

  • David Spence

    • May 9th, 2016 22:51

    Everybody is going on about the SNP not doing enough in comparison to the western isles, but nobody has mentioned or criticized Serco, and their unjust contribution to the increase of fares ever since they took the contract (under, I think, very suspicious circumstances, lets say).

    How much has Serco increased the fare in real terms compared to their counterparts in the western isles? Yes, the distance between Shetland and mainland Scotland is greater than the western isles, but what are passengers charged mile-for-mile compared to Serco???? I very much doubt Serco are ‘ value for money ‘.

    What are the subsidies given to both companies (western isles and Shetland) by the Scottish Office, and what are the running costs compared to the profit margins?????

    It seems we should be putting pressure on Serco (or the SNP putting pressure on Serco) rather than putting the full blame onto the Scottish Government………where their strings are pulled by Westminster, and where the Tory Government, based on the massive amount of contracts Serco are getting, are cuddling upto Serco in the same bed, lets say.

  • John Irvine

    • May 9th, 2016 23:08

    So Jonathon, you are “talking to the Scottish Government about solutions”. How long has this futile dialog been going on?
    Its about high time someone did something about extremely discriminatory situation instead of talking about solutions, this has gone on for far too long, it just goes to show what this SNP government are about and also highlights how inept the Shetland Islands Council is.


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