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

Saturday, January 12, 2008


An advance copy of part of the FoI request about the Mallaig-Lochboisdale tender documentation has made it's way into my hands.

And interesting reading it makes too.

Raising more questions than answers; and some serious questions too.

(Journalists: at this point stop! Unless you mention the blog in your 'exclusive' reports*)

According to the WHFP this week, the tender for Mallaig-Lochboisdale would cost only £600,000 extra to deliver. Wrong! But the question is who gave them this wrong information?

The tentacles stretching from CalMac to the Government seem to be rotten, and the questions must focus on who is misleading whom. And why?

The truth that will be out next week is that the non-compliant tender relates to a proposal included in the tender document (for a mere £600,000 pa extra ) to change the Oban-Castlebay-Lochboisdale service to become a Mallaig-Lochboisdale-Castlebay service.

This was non-compliant because no consultation had taken place with any of the affected communities in breach of every guideline covering CalMac's operations.

I understand that this was CalMac's response to the call from the previous administration for a Mallaig-Lochboisdale service, and when the impact was realised, the request was dropped like a hot potato.

But CalMac brought it back, despite being told it was unacceptable, obviously in the hope of getting the Civil Servants on board (no pun intended) for a politically unacceptable plan.

What is incomprehensible is that the Minister has not been open about this, and why CalMac have found it necessary to spin left, right and centre on this matter.

Unfortunately, this also raises a more local question: when did the Convener of the Comhairle know about this?

It is clear that CalMac cannot be trusted to deliver for the people of the Western Isles, as they are playing a political game aimed towards Edinburgh, and treated the people of these islands as third-class (steerage?).

The solution is surely to put Mallaig-Lochboisdale out to open tender, and leave Oban-Castlebay under CalMac control.

*Especially the Gazette who download files and then ignore the source!


Anonymous said...

I thought Labour's Councillor Macsween first punted this story and fed it to the WHFP?

But - he's the Vice Chairman of the Comhairle's Transportation Committee and so in the know - so what's he up to?

Is he trying to discredit the SNP Chairman of the Transportation Committee, or is he indeed trying to embarrass the Convenor who despite being Labour too is a Calmac Director?

No, it must be Manford he's after!

Anonymous said...

Jeeso Angus, you just won't let the ADS thing lie!

I see you're now counting down the days until European approval!

It really can't not happen.

Anonymous said...

Surely CalMac has an exclusive contract to provide subsidised ferry services on west coast routes - so your solution would be a non-starter. The extra subsidy for a 12 month Lochboisdale-Mallaig while retaining the Oban-Castlebay service would be far far more than £600,000. They may have messed up the politics but the reality is all about money.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to go along with the last 'anon' but I'm afraid politicts are at work....

Anonymous said...

the first comment is particularly stupid and blinkered. macsween entered the story about three weeks after it was revealed and only to call on the msp to say when he first knew about the £600,000 option.

Anonymous said...

Almost there, Angus, but just a few corrections to complete the full picture.

Barra was not to be cut-off entirely, the Lochboisdale-Castlebay run was to eventually disappear, as 'the passengers could travel via Eriskay to Uist'. There were to two runs a week using the MV Clansman via Coll and Tiree, taking us back 25 years, and adding hours to the journey. All this was to be subject to 'consultation' with the people of Barra, once it was accepted by the Government.

Of course the Convener knew! All the non-executive directors were fully aware of the bid that was planned and submitted.

But a bit of background: the new proposal came about and was being activitely campaigned for by the SNP, and those leading the negotiations with CalMac and the Minister were:-
Angus B MacNeil MP
Alastair Allan MSP
Jim Mather MSP
Fergus Ewing MSP.

The Minister and the MSPs were told that this proposal had the majority support in both Uist and Barra.

The one person kept in the dark by his own side, and who was totally outside the loop - much to the embarassment of CalMac - was Cllr Donald Manford, the Chair of the Transport Committee on CnES, and member for Barra.

Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is that Macsween is putting his campaign to be elected before his duties and responsibilities of being vice-chair of transportation in the Comhairle. He's not asking questions as the latter, he's asking them as the former - yet he's paid as a councillor. That's where his responsibilities should lie.

Anonymous said...

Unlikely Macsween is out to discredit his fellow radical and beardie, Manford- the two of them formed some kind of unholy alliance years ago, reserrecting RET and pursuing cheaper air fares are among their wheezes, and dont forget one led the charge to instal the other as Convenor last May. Macsween is never slow to have a go at the Convenor, but his targets this time are surely the MP and MSP, wouldnt you say? Question now is how long before Manford joins the ranks of the Great Expelled?

Anonymous said...

Another fine mess they have gotten themselves into! Can ABM, AA, Mather, Ewing and the Minister wriggle their way out of this one, I think not, with people on both sides of the sound extremely unhappy with the situation. Keep up the good work Angus.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:55 - right on the nail.

Anonymous said...

Why exactly should Manford resign rather than call everyone to account if that's what's required?

Anonymous said...

Good line at the end, Angus, about the Stornoway Gazette nicking other people's work and files without attribution. That rings a bell. Their copy & paste skills are chust fantastic. Shite paper.

Anonymous said...

One of the strange things about the Western Isles is that you seem to have love/hate relationships with Calmac, The Gazette, windfarms etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Theres press releases, warm and tender and juicy, and they make you drool at the mouth. Then theres the spicy ones that tell their own story. Thers press releases, and theres Manford and Macsween Press realesas. Mmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Why would the Barra people want manford to quit, is beyond me. He has done so much for the Barra people. He fights all the way for them. Another thing CalMac has given the people in the western isles years of great service, so why change now. Putting the Uist run on tender could be unbenifical as lord knows who we would get.