He is right not to do so, as there are a number of simple solutions to the problem that require a constructive approach and will not be solved by being at loggerheads with the Government, again.
Transport consultants Faber Maunsell suggest the cost of bringing the fleet up to the optimum age and size will cost quarter of a billion pounds and that this might not be justifiable in light of the declining populations on west coast islands.The full replacement cost might be in the right area but look at the the justification...
in light of the declining populations on west coast islandsHang on a minute: are you assuming that improved ferry services can do nothing to affect the population on the islands?
The ferry services should be there to protect the communities and encourage rural growth, not to facilitate an easy exit.
I remember this point being made a multitude of times in the Council chamber, with everyone demanding that the focus be on the communities that are being served. All of which explains why the ferries are berthed in Stornoway, Berneray and Barra.
None of which goes the slightest way to explaining why CalMac headquarters remain in Gourock, other than for the convenience of the Central Belt Board Members. We are occasionally blessed with a visit, usually delivered in finest patronising tones to inform the natives of what the Board are doing to benefit them.
The approach now has to be to ensure that the ferry services meet the requirements of the communities they serve, and a simple like-for-like replacement is not satisfactory. If we need two new ferries on the Stornoway-Ullapool route shuttling backwards and forwards, then that is what we should campaign for; not a piecemeal replacement of each ferry to give a slightly better service.
RET confuses the issue, of course, but it is inevitable that bigger, faster and better ferries, running more frequently are going to be needed and at the next election the focus has to be on substantial service improvement -- whether that is in new builds or leased vessels is immaterial.