22nd October 2018
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Cheaper ferry fares – councillors’ ultimatum to Yousaf

Senior councillors have given an ultimatum to the Scottish transport minister to make good his promise to deliver cheaper ferry fares.

The NorthLink ferry Hrossey.

 

Elected members have been holding talks with Humza Yousaf during his visit to the isles today (Friday).

Councillors have also insisted that money allocated within the Scottish budget for inter-island ferries should not be a one-off.

Asked if there was any update on when a variant of RET might be rolled out for the isles, interim leader Steven Coutts said councillors were “demanding” action in the next week.

“I understand there is a potential issue on the Pentland Firth where there is a commercial operator that might cause challenges for the government.

“But, from our perspective as a Shetland community, that’s not having a direct impact on us and we want to see sooner rather than later that introduction of RET. It’s long overdue.

“The government gave a commitment to do that within the first half of this year. It’s impacting on the community.”

Chairman of the council’s development committee, Alastair Cooper, said Mr Yousaf had reiterated the Scottish government’s commitment.

Talks also centred on the fair deal offered to the council to help run its fleet of inter-island ferries.

The SNP administration gave £5 million to the SIC to help it maintain inter-island links.

But Mr Coutts is determined a recurring investment from Edinburgh is essential.

Mr Yousaf is likely to make a return visit to the isles during the summer to discuss the issue.

Mr Coutts said: “I had a brief conversation with the minister this morning on this issue and again reiterated to him that we need certainty going forward – a recurring spend both in terms of revenue and also the capital requirements for our internal ferry fleet.

“The budget settlement was a one-off. That is just not acceptable for the Shetland Islands Council and the community. We need certainty. The community needs certainty, and a recurring spend in line with the parliamentary motion tabled by the Lib Dems that the parliament is behind.”

• Full coverage of Humza Yousaf’s visit, including an interview with the minister and updates on the Sumburgh car parking campaign, will be included in next week’s Shetland Times.

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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5 comments

  1. Wayne Conroy

    “Cheaper ferry fares – councillors’ ultimatum to Yousaf”

    Ultimatum: a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations.

    And what exactly are the council going to do if their demands for action are not met in the next week? Of course It’ll be the same old story… sit back and take it as always.

    Reply
  2. John Tulloch

    Mr Coutts and the council are 100 percent right to press Humza Yousaf and the SNP Scottish Government on this.

    Every day that passes without implementation of the pledged fare reductions money that Shetlanders should be saving is siphoned away to pay for the NorthLink ferry ships (originally specified by CalMac), as part of the SNP plan to bring the ferry contract in-house for, guess who – the “good ol’ boys” of nationalised CalMac!

    If that is allowed to happen it will be a disaster for users and taxpayers, alike.

    Reply
  3. Martin Clare

    The current pricing level is so damaging for tourism in Shetland. I am visiting Shetland this summer for a week along with a group of friends but the ferry price so nearly put us off. We have paid £1600+ for three cars and 6 people return, we could have flown 6 people to Florida for less. We only booked because we were promised that a fare rede ruin was on its way and we would get a refund to reflect this, as this has been delayed latest-news/700283/henry-vincent-funeral-hither-green-orpington-richard-ose will be reassessing the viability our trip.

    When I tell others about how wonderful Shetland is and they look into visiting the cost of travel puts them off. Something really does need to be done urgently!

    Reply
    • Louise McColl

      We booked for Orkney and we were also assured we would get a refund when RET fares come into force it’s now nearly June and no further forward in the new rates
      Louise McColl

      Reply
  4. colin macdougall

    where is the follow up to this ? i sent an email to the times with open questions to the snp gloating in Stornoway about the success of ret and see no action on this important matter whatso ever . Why not ? The shetland dev council invested some 6% to the ferry smyril which temn years ago dropped scerabster and shetland from its routes . if this investment is still there , how about chasing it up . The smyrill line is doing rather better now than it was ten years ago is it not and the dev ought to be pushing for some return .Its complacency combined with that of the shetland council is somewhat staggering is it not ?

    Reply

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