Back in August on his visit to Shetland, islands and transport minister Humza Yousaf kindly agreed to meet me as part of the Fair Ferry Fares Campaign which was created in May 2016 to put pressure on the Scottish government to keep their promise of ‘driving down’ fares for Shetland and Orkney’s lifeline service, something Nicola Sturgeon herself promised to do on her visit to the islands at the start of the year.
During this meeting Mr Yousaf promised many things. First of all he promised we wouldn’t be waiting ‘years and years’ for our fares to be reduced, and that something would be done ‘sooner rather than later’. Two months on and after discussing this issue with those in charge of the horrendous consultation it is my understanding that any new fares won’t be introduced until the new contract comes into play in April 2018, a full two years after the elections.
Mr Yousaf also promised to keep the Fair Ferry Fares Campaign in the loop, including being copied into any email correspondence and indeed being kept abreast on any information relating to the lifeline service and the internal ferries. This hasn’t happened.
Finally, I wrote Mr Yousaf a letter dated 19th September 2016, which I received an automated response to on 21st September promising a reply within 20 working days. The letter had a simple question, “Would you be prepared to release the time frame involved for reducing our fares?”. We are now well
over this deadline and we haven’t heard a single word from him privately, or indeed publicly.
I find a lack of response from Mr Yousaf deeply concerning. His clear lack of understanding on how important this matter is to islanders in Shetland and Orkney is clear and obvious and his inability to keep his promises to this campaign and the people of Shetland and Orkney show a lack of respect which should not be ignored.
I continually get people coming up to me on the street and in the shop urging me to keep going with the campaign and not be fobbed off with continuous lies and broken promises. I have lost count the number of people now who have told me they genuinely can no longer afford to leave Shetland because the prices are so high.
Some people simply cannot afford the £500+ trip to Aberdeen. In 2016 the fact people cannot afford an internal journey within Scotland is beyond belief.
It’s bad enough they allowed it to get this bad, however the lack of interest on this subject now from the Scottish government post election is even more startling.
(Fair ferry fares campaigner)