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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The biggest obstacle

John Swinney brought a number of CalMac worthies to Stornoway - at the taxpayers expense - for the big non-announcement on RET.

So what is the biggest obstacle in the delivery of RET to the Western Isles?

Political will-power?
The coming Comprehensive Spending Review?

The answer is actually - and regular readers of the blog will not be surprised - CalMac itself.

Which senior officer of CalMac, civil servant, answerable to the First Minister, and employee of you and me made the following outrageous comments after the press announcement as an aside, sotto voce, but to those who he needed to hear it? These comments are not repeated verbatim, but capture the tone and essence of his message to the Board....

The idea of RET is foolish
It won't work as the ferries are full already
It won't work as the hotels in Stornoway are full already
Who wants to come to Stornoway, anyway?

All enquiries to CalMac's spokesman, and master of tact and political nous, Hugh Dan MacLennan. I suspect Mr Swinney may be the first to call and ask "WTF ...?"


Anonymous said...

The second biggest obstacle is the cost to provide RET elsewhere in Scotland.

Herald letters today:-

I read David Ross's report of John Swinney's announcement of yet another study into Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) with some incredulity (The Herald, August 13).

This will do nothing for islanders on the Clyde, and rejecting Labour's pledge to cut ferry fares immediately by 40% is the equivalent of an "SNP surcharge" on island life in these parts.

We already know all we need to know about RET. The SNP should waste no more time on studies; all the necessary research has already been done by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar; indeed, these studies have been on the minister's desk for some time.

Why won't the SNP cut ferry fares now by 40% to boost island economies and cut commuting costs for islanders, as Labour proposed, while it undertakes its latest study? After all, we already know that the costs of RET potentially far exceed Labour's costed commitment.

The SNP has been promising for years that it would introduce RET. Now that the Nationalists are in power and responsible for the costs of the scheme, they renege on Labour's discounted ferry fares scheme and offer islanders nothing in return - except another study.

Will the SNP commit to introducing RET for the Clyde islands after the conclusion of the pilot programme in the Western Isles or is this latest statement simply more gloss, more spin and, ultimately, more pie in the sky from the Nationalists?

Allan Wilson, 44 Stoneyholm Road, Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.
(former Labour MSP)

Anonymous said...

and Shetland wanting RET immediately, too.

Anonymous said...

I suppose we could be cynical and wonder if this latest study now puts off a decision on RET till after the next General Election.

Does anyone have fully costed figures for RET on all of Scotlands ferry routes?

Angus said...


A real cynic might suggest that actual implementation will be promised no sooner than the next Scottish Parliamentary Elections in 2011.

Appoint consultants - 6 months
Undertake study - 1 year (minimum)
Write report - 6 months
Ministers to consider - 6 months
Proposals issued - 6 months

Ooops, too close to an election to do anything.....

(BTW: Prof Neil Kay was supposed to have an article about RET in the Herald yesterday - where did it go?)

According to the last accounts CalMac had income for fares of £50.1m. Assume RET takes 90% off the fares, and you can guess that the subsidy jumps from £31m to £75m.

Anonymous said...

But that doesn't include the Northern Ferrys