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

Monday, July 23, 2007

Road Equivalent Tarriff

Isle of Lewis ferryGood news and bad news is being reported today.

The good news is that the Executive appear to be adhering to their promise to examine bringing in a new tarriff regime. Mind you, they really had no choice. As I have previously pointed out, the phrasing is very vague and allows lots of wriggle room, should they want that. However, lets give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that everything is going full steam ahead, at least for the moment.

The study by Napier University proposes the end of the "state-owned" model, and a virtual free for all in the provision of ferry services. Apparently "state provision" is no longer the norm in the EU. This may work in the North Sea and the Greek islands where you can swap vessels and providers at the drop of an anchor, but to propose the dismantling of CalMac will cause a riot. No-one other than Western Ferries are making such a proposal with any fervour, but I cannot see any merit in this proposal, whatsoever.

However, the worst bit of bad news is now history:
When the Scottish Executive last examined ferry fares, under the then Labour transport minister Sarah Boyack, civil servants were expressly forbidden to consider RET because it would boost travel to such an extent that larger ferries and quays would have to be built.

Yes, you read that correctly: RET was a bad idea as it would encourage too many people to travel. It doesn't matter how often I repeat this true story, I'm still in disbelief at the stupidity, narrow-mindedness and sheer mean-spiritedness that generated this decision.

If we are looking to reform (rather than dismantle) CalMac, then bring in some commercial awareness. I remember the Chief Executive telling the Comhairle that they had no idea how many people were turned away because ferries were full or too expensive, but despite the absence of this enormous piece of information, they were happy that the service was appropriate.

Are we losing out on 1,000 visitors a year (or 100,000) because ferries are full or pricey? It would certainly affect many views were it the later and we ended up with bigger, faster and cheaper services.

Let's keep a close eye on this, and ensure we end up with the best outcome possible. And soon.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I couldn't believe that bit about the RET being explicitly excluded.

I hope that this review gets pushed through quite quickly and I hope that AA puts a lot of effort into being vocal/making motions etc to push it through.

Also in terms of politics I would hope that whatever people's flavour they would simply try and see this thing pushed through.

I've grown exceptionally weary of the various anonymous postings going on - at least pick a consistent username - especially if all you are going to do is whine/rant/slander/whatever 'democratic' expression you use

I find this blog to be quite refreshing in terms of honesty and while I may not agree with all of Angus' viewpoints I at least understand where he is coming from in believing them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, good to see the government following up on their promise to instigate the RET enquiry by the end of 2007.

Better news that they managed it within the "golden" 100 days. When do we reach 100 days, by the way? Is it calender days (10 August), does it exclude weekends (19 September), or exclude holidays (your guess as good as mine!).

Also good news today about the work on the A9 at Helmsdale, building on the existing work at Ballinluig. I'm sure whatever party you support, you'll recognise this is a positive thing for road safety in the Highlands.

Anonymous said...

I cant wait to be proven wrong,
If RET can be made to happen then great, at the moment I don't think we are any further forward. Why can't the council take over the Ferry's

Angus said...

100 days? A meaningless pointless time frame.

If politicians want to give themselves unnecessary problems then so be it; they've only themselves to blame.

Like the RET "study", I view the "plan" to double track the A9, as weasel words. But let's judge by results (or failures), and welcome any and every improvement.

Angus said...

The SNP Group on the Comhairle suggested in 2005 - assuming the Scottish Executive wouldn't come up with the money - that as a last resort the Comhairle use any money from windfarms to subsidise the cost of the ferries down to RET level.

We got support from virtually every Councillor (including the Labour ones, off the record) but can you guess which national politician told his party to ignore the idea?

Anonymous said...

PLEASE don't tell me it was A.Salmond - if it was please include the full quote.

Anonymous said...

Strange you never mentioned this one before, Angus (correct me if I'm wrong).

Who was it then? I expect proof of your claim with a link to minutes of the meeting at which the national politician told you to ignore the idea. Let me guess - there was no meeting, there were no minutes, there was no politician. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

Without proof, I suppose yours' are the true "weasel words" for today.

Angus said...

No accurate guesses so far, but one UTTERLY inaccurate one from Anon 6:14.

I will cut and paste the proof in due course, but suffice to say it is irrefutable, as the three Politicians at the centre of this will have to confirm!

Anonymous said...

I don't know, nor do I want to know, the reasons why Angus and the SNP fell out.

I expect that, if both sides were to be honest, they would admit that there are things they would have done differently given another chance. Hindsight is a great thing.

Whatever, it is unfortunate that both sides haven't managed to put the past behind them and move on.

History has shown that doing ones dirty washing in public makes BOTH sides look bad, and neither party is coming out of this situation with much credit.

Without wanting to be too over-the-top, would it be possible for both sides to let bygones be bygones, for Scotland's sake?

Anonymous said...

If RET 'creates too much demand for travel' (Lewis MacDonald I believe) we do not need bigger ferries. A bigger ferry would cost the same to run whether it was full or carried only one car. What we need is extra ferries with great capacity for speed. Two ferries of the same size could ply back and forth between Ullapool and Stornoway and when the demand for travel slackens off - as it does because we still have to work at some point and can't be jollying over to the mainland ALL the time - one of the boats can be tied up saving fuel and, if required salaries too. It is amazing what fuel is used by these tubs.