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

Saturday, October 10, 2009

RET - the questions continue

An email has been sent out to many local residents apparently using the ADS database, which reads as follows (my emphasis):

Dear Member,

The Scottish Government launched the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) pilot scheme in October 2008, reducing fares by 40% on ferry routes between the Western Isles and the Scottish mainland. Halcrow has been commissioned to evaluate the ongoing operation of the pilot scheme and assess its value for money for Scottish taxpayers. With this in mind, we are asking for your permission to participate in an online survey to hear your views on how RET has impacted on your life over its first year of operation. The results from the survey will inform the interim evaluation of the pilot scheme which is currently being undertaken.

Please be assured that your responses will be treated in strictest confidence and all completed responses will be entered into a prize draw, as a token of our thanks for participating in the survey.

I am asking whether you would be agreeable to being contacted by the consultant above for the purposes of evaluating the Scottish Government’s Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) pilot scheme.

Your agreement to participate in the evaluation will be accepted on the basis that your e-mail details will be provided to the chosen consultant solely for that purpose. All responses will be treated confidentially by the Scottish Government and the consultant.

I would be grateful if you would confirm by responding to this email by 14th October 2009 whether you are willing to participate in the evaluation of the Road Equivalent Tariff pilot.

Yours sincerely


Now call me a cynic, but....

Assess its value for money for Scottish taxpayers seems to make the principal criteria cost, rather than the economic benefit (or impact) on the islands, which is a worrying starting point.

Evaluate the ongoing operation reads to me like an escape route being set-up by the Government.

Take a step back, and look at the current economic climate and there are going to have to be big cuts in various places and there is no good reason why RET should be excluded from the review, unless we can demonstrate that the economic impact is such that removal of RET will cripple the Western Isles economy.

The Taskforce worked wonders on the Uist rocket range, despite having only very short notice of the proposals. This time the Council (I'm not expecting HIE to deliver much) and anyone else they can bring in will need to start work soon on building the case and persuading Ministers of the importance of the scheme.

I expect the review will be completed sometime just ahead of the Holyrood election, but the decision will be taken by the incoming party. That might be our opportunity to get the parties competing to offer the best deal.


Anonymous said...

I haven't been contacted but want to contribute, what are the contact details please?

Anonymous said...

Halcrow. Why do that pack of snakes appear at every corner?

Richard T said...

Reading this from Orkney where we have a interest in the RET scheme, our MSP was told clearly that no decision would be made until the end of the trial in 2011. Now this survey seems remarkably well in advance of the end date so your (and our) suspicions about its cessation seem warranted. There is however the possibility of low politics entering the scene. The Lib Dems are re-thinking their stance on the independence referendum and 2 MSPs (Tavish Scott of course is against any movement on it) have a strong constituency interest in getting the RET extended sooner than 2011, particularly bearing in mind its success with yourselves.

Anonymous said...

RE: 7.25pm; how much is it going to cost to pay Halcrow to undertake the study? With all the researchers/advisors/clerks/hangers-on/numpties being employed by the Scottish exec (also courtesy of the tax payer), surely between all of them they knock up an in house survey? Perhaps the tax payers could undertake a study to see if the Scottish exec is value for money?

Flirty Gerty said...

The survey is at Just cut and paste into your browser.

Is it beyond our collective wit to use an FOI to find out how much the Scottish Government have spent on this (and all the other surveys I've received as a local business owner)since the RET pilot has been going? Just a thought.

I assume that Halcrow won this survey work under a tender of some kind, so the outcome instructions should be available somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the survey is aimed at local businesses?

Of course, the views of the public utilising the service do not appear to matter, or will there be a further study to obtain their views?

Anonymous said...

More to the point it would be very interesting to find out how much Halcrow have made out of the Western Isles. The have produced some weighty tomes for the Comhairle on renewable energy which must have cost an absolute packet, but which are really generic documents which describe the potential 'green' economy applicable to any area, but with a few local names patched in.

The documents crop up as and when required to support the Comhairle position. The latest was of course the Salmond commissioned report published this year.

All of it is an example of money totally wasted. If civil servants were allowed to carry out their jobs (as paid for), their proffessional opinions respected and decisions informed accordingly, then the taxpayer would not be funding all this. And I don't single out just the renewables reports, nothing seems to happen these days with out a hugely expensive study into feasibilty or outcome.

Will we be seeing a study into the need for campervan toilet disposal facilities, or can we at least take that one as a given?