First minister told to live up to by-election ferry promises

MSP Beatrice Wishart has pressed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on whether the Scottish government will live up to promises made during the by-election campaign.

At First Minister’s Questions the new MSP asked Ms Sturgeon to set out the Government’s priorities for action on the lifeline services to Aberdeen.

Lib Dem Ms Wishart said the response did not fill her with confidence adding that she was disappointed no ferry service improvements were outlined in the Programme for Government on Tuesday.

Ms Wishart said: “I appreciate the welcome to parliament today from the first minister, but Shetlanders will remember that there were plenty of warm words from the SNP during the by-election campaign on our lifeline ferry service, including a freeze in fares and increased sailings.

“This government must show that their promises were not simply bargaining for votes. The response today does not fill me with confidence.

“The community has repeatedly voiced what needs to change to make this service fit for purpose now and into the future.”
Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is calling for the Scottish government to urgently review its ferry services.

Ms Grant said there was an increased demand for travel to and from Scotland’s islands, but in order for that demand to be met and economic growth not to be stifled ferries had to be fit for purpose and provide the capacity required.

She said: “Unfortunately our seagoing transport network is groaning under the strain, and solutions urgently need to be found to ensure that these lifeline services are fit for purpose.”

Ms Grant noted that the islands were already seeing the consequences of the stretched capacity during peak times, with constituents reporting cancelled accommodation bookings and the inability to travel for medical appointments.

She said the government had to focus on providing “reliable boats that can serve the needs of our communities”.

“It is time that the Scottish government stopped kicking this issue into the long grass and provide ferry services that meet demand, both immediate and long term.”


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