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

Sunday, September 23, 2007

£43 million

The increased annual subsidy from £31 to £43 million to CalMac may look like A Good Thing on first impressions (and who am I to decry the possibility of enhanced investment in the ferry services), but it looks like to old "smoke and mirror" trick so beloved of civil servants and the previous Labour Executive.

The increased subsidy is partially due to the provision of additional services to Gigha, Arran, Coll, Tiree, Mull and Islay. The rest of the increase presumably goes to pay the salaries of the new enhanced, expanded, management structure of the seven companies that CalMac has become i.e. to pay the bloody lawyers to draw up Service Level Agreements between all the different bodies. Seven companies means a minimum of 5,040 720 possible contracts (7! = 7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = 5,040) (6! = 6x5x4x3x2x1 = 720) and you can bet the lawyers are salivating blood at the possible feeding frenzy being dropped into their laps.

And what do the outer islands get? Nothing.

Why? Well according to a Scottish Government spokesman the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route was "unaffordable" as it would require a new ferry costing £25 million and running costs of £4 million a year.

Now read that very carefully again, and then mull it over with a small glass of RET and a bucket of scepticism and cynicism.

Right, so RET is due to be introduced soon (er, well, actually the contract for the work to undertake the research to study the costs and implications of RET is due to be awarded this year) and it is going to cost buckets. Make no mistake, supporting the island communities with RET is going to be frighteningly expensive and I will name and shame every politician who says it is TOO expensive.

So £25m for a new ferry and £4 pa is too much, yet the Government are pledged to introduce RET (er, well not actually. They are pledged to commence a study in 2007 and introduce a pilot scheme thereafter; but let's not split hairs as the failure to introduce full RET everywhere will result in the SNP losing this seat) .

Having been immersed in the murky world of politics for too long I see the wiggle-room in everything that is being said, and as I have prophesied before, don't expect RET this Parliament but expect it to be a promise for the next elections in 2009.


Anonymous said...

If there are 7 Cal Mac companies requiring Service Level contacts with each other, this is a total of 720 (6x5x4x3x2x1) contracts, rather than 5040 (7x6x5x4x3x2x1). They shouldn't need contracts with themselves.

That's still plenty, but you shouldn't over-exaggerate the numbers to support your argument.

Angus said...

Yes you are right. But it is not over exaggeration, just stupidity on my part.

Anonymous said...

So you admit your error.

Reading the blog comments about your involvement in local issues (wind farms, transport, health, education, etc) the impression I got was that you never made a mistake. Good to see your human, like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

What are the seven companies you are on about?
I make it 5. David MacBrayne Ltd. (DMB) who own Calmac Ferries Ltd. (CFL)who own both Calmac Crewing (Guernsey) Ltd. and Calmac HR (UK) Ltd. DMB is owned by Scottish Ministers.
Then there is Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd. (CMAL) which owns all the piers and boats and which is owned by Scottish Ministers. What I have yet to figure out is whether CMAL is a subsiduary of DMB or is directly owned by Scottish Ministers.
In this situation I can see that CFL would have a contract with CMAL but I can see no reason for the crewing or HR subsiduaries to deal with CMAL.
Some civil servant must have had a whale of a time creating this porage!
As for innovation in the Outer Isles (I cannot find reference to the Lochboisdale Mallaig ferry costs - Where did you get that info?) Calmac have been ignoring the wishes of the communities here for ages and it looks like we are lumbered with timetables that look like they were drawn up by a bus inspector.

Anonymous said...

Having just sailed with Calmac yesterday (Sunday)home to Stornoway, I feel that they offer a great 7 day service, well apart from having to go through Skye, wait an hour in Uig,1.5 hours on ferry, drive through North Uist, ferry to leverburgh, and drive through about 12 villages as the Stornoway traffic- about 6 to 8 vehicles pass traffic all going the other way to their church services, journey takes about 6 /7 hours. if only there was a quicker way of doing it on a Sunday there would be less disturbance on the roads. Any thoughts on a more direct Sunday route anyone ??

Angus said...

NorthLink Ferries Ltd and NorthLink Orkney & Shetland Ferries Ltd are also subsidiary companies of the group.

Anonymous said...

I forgot about that connection. Maybe CFL will go half way through the contract and complain that they just can't do it at the figures tendered and the whole process will start all over again!