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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CalMac subsidy

As someone who was deeply involved in trying to understand the Altmark judgement, which seemed to give the go ahead for subsidies on essential public services, I am in despair at the way in which that latest EU intervention into the debate is panning out.

The problem stems from the decision of the LibLab Executive to decide that Altmark didn't mean that you could give subsidies to essential services, but that you had to put the services out to tender before you could give the subsidy.

This was an individual, nay unique, interpretation of the permission by the EU Court of Justice that you DIDN'T have to put services out to tender to award a subsidy. One that Donald Manford and I fought hard to get the Comhairle to accept. No -- fought hard to get them to understand. The the Executive turned a blind eye in the most perverse manner.

Now, as the report in The Herald makes clear, the whole subsidy issue is up in the air again:-
    The European transport commissioner arrives in Scotland tonight and will begin taking evidence on how the country subsidises its ferry services. His visit comes as fears grow of new threats to the Caledonian MacBrayne network, presented by the European Commission itself.
CalMac ferry
In essence, the EU may rule that all the subsidies were illegal BECAUSE the service was put out to a tender designed to give the services to the winner - CalMac; whilst if CalMac had been given the subsidy without a tender then it may have been perfectly legal.

I almost despair at the call by Alyn Smith MEP (SNP) for the EU to investigate the subsidy issue to provide "clarity", as being dangerous in the extreme. This is what has opened the whole issue up for debate again, and instead of burying the issue (and blaming Labour!) the SNP seem determined to spend endless hours arguing with the Commission about the finer points of tendering, distracting all and sundry from the real issues of supporting the island communities.

I've given Labour enough kickings on this issue - as they are the root cause - but if the SNP make it even more difficult for the CalMac regime to continue, then they will get an even bigger kicking.


Anonymous said...

Following on from the wind-farm fiasco, is this another botch up you've been involved in?

If you failed to get the Comhnairle to understand the implications of Altmark then, by definition, you failed.

I expect you to do your usual and point the finger at others, whilst trying to weasle out of accepting any blame yourself.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Calmac. Their sister company Northlink (who run the ferries to Orkney and Shetland) have today introduced a rule that all passengers have to show photo ID.
I aked Calmac why Northlink were and Calmac weren't doing the same thing.

Their response?

"Thank you for your e-mail. I understand that Northlink have introduced the
photo ID system for 4 reasons -

Immigration Issues
To prevent fraud of the discount scheme
To prevent drug trafficking
For the implementation of travel bans

As these are not currently issues for CalMac, we have no plans to introduce
photo ID......."

So basically we don't have any problems with immigration, drugs, travel bans or discount card (agree with that last one).

It's nice to know these things. Maybes the local rag can run a good news story? {:-))

Anonymous said...

I don't think being unable to get the Comhairle to understand Altmark is a credible basis for calling anyone a failure - especially when the genius making the judgement invents the word 'weasle'.
And on the subject of inventing words, Alasdair Allan has soared in my estimation. I'd heard he had no sense of humour but his latest News Release regularly refers to the Victorian mill owner as 'Mr Haggis'. Well done, Alasdair 'Woody' Allan!!

Angus said...

Anon 9:10 - I'll take none of the credit for persuading the Council to understand and push the Altmark decision. All that credit belongs to Donald Manford.

The Labour Executive refused to listen or use the decision in any way to improve the service, being blinded by the need to put it out to tender, regardless.

Angus said...

"Haggis" - see Hebrides News for the following:

"the mill owner Brian Haggis"


Anonymous said...

The order for a new Fisheries Protection Vessel(F.P.V. HIRTA) for the Scottish Fishery Protection Agency, paid for by the Scottish Parliment cost £8 million + and rising was gifted to a Polish shipbuilder by the then Labour administration in Edinburgh to the detriment of Fergusons shipyard in Port Glasgow who cut to the bone their tender for building the ship.
The vessel is now 6 months overdue and I can not get a completion date from S.F.P.A.
Ross Finnie has a lot to answerfor.