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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday ferry into Harris

This proposal by CalMac was as predictable as the lack of gritting on the roads.

However, the call by Donald Crichton for a referendum was as misguided, as it was populist.

Of course he was playing politics as the SNP must be slightly uncomfortable over the issue, but the logic in his argument was totally missing.  Why are those who travel from Lewis to Skye not to be given a say in the matter, for instance?

The consultation is a sham as CalMac believe that they have the right - or possibly the obligation - to provide 7-day services, but that doesn't mean that it should not be engaged with.  The way forward is for the wider community to argue for the best possible service from CalMac, and not just a discussion about the bits that they want to see introduced or imposed.

A quick look at the Board of CalMac shows why the islands aren't really being considered.  The Government have left us with an organisation that has no representatives from the islands; is based on the mainland; and, one that sees it's principal remit as being to ensure it wins the next re-tendering exercise.

The ethos of the organisation needs an overhaul, and neither cheap political shots (Labour) nor avoiding the issue (SNP) is going to take it forward one iota, and until that radical change happens we are going to be left with a second-rate service defined by non-users and financial constraints, rather than the needs of the public.


Grumpy Old Git said...

Interesting to see that the matter either hasn't been raised at the last two CalMac board meetings, or that it has been withheld for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

It strikes me as particularly hypocriticial that CalMac have already sailed two Sunday sailings on this route before announcing their 'consultation'. They are clearly also playing to the gallery.

How about this as a strategic 'way forward'. Let it play out in the media for a bit, then sail on Sundays, then if the world doesn't come to an end, carry on running it anyway. Oh. That's what they were doing....

Anonymous said...

Been humming and haaing about this, then read the usual letters in the usual media.

I'm pro-ferry on a Sunday. I don't believe in (a) "God", but have no problem with people who do; I don't interfere with their lives, and don't expect them to interfere with mine.

But ... the calls for a referendum or a ballot may have some merit. The letters, councillors, people on forums claim they know the feeling of the populance. Do they? Really? How? Many people, wisely perhaps in the micro-communities of the Outer Hebrides, keep their opinions to themselves. Anyone who claims they know the 'feeling' or 'mood' of the people is either deluding themselves, or being dishonest.

Have the referendum or ballot, and finally and for the first time we'll have an *ACCURATE* measure of what the residents really think. But it has to be done fairly, with privacy and integrity. So no Internet petitions or polls, which are easy to corrupt. And no paper petitions, where people are implicitly pressurised to sign, with no privacy, by the bearer.

The next elections are coming up in May. Hold the referendum/ballot at the same time; that will keep costs down, and may encourage a few more people to turn out for either/both. Then, finally, in 2011, we'll have an accurate picture of what the communities really and honestly think on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Sunday sailing on Lewis is going just fine.

Anonymous said...

Why should a resident in Harris determine whether I can travel to Tarbert for a Sunday sailing? Would we accept that a little old lady in Kinlochleven should give me permission to cross the Ballachulish Bridge on the Sabbath?

No T (Turbines) now in the Pairc said...

Hi All Remember this:


loads of letters from the self populist sorry pubulistJohn MacLeod
Ducking and Diving from the MP and MSP (at least until after the May elections)
The demand for crossings increases - tourists flood over yet again

Sorry but actually the future of Harris will be decided by this because its future is the explotation of its beauty and its tourist industry


Another crossing to export its youth away

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5.33pm - I don't disagree with your post on finding out the 'real' opinion. It's just that it's dreadfully difficult to do here for all the flaws you point out. And the likelihood of money being spent on a referendum is very slight, given all the other cuts in the public purse.

But let's suppose we did have one, and let's assume the vote only affected those on the electoral roll in Lewis and Harris. What if Stornoway and Point voted in favour of Sunday sailings, Back and Harris voted against it, Lochs voted in favour and the West Side were narrowly against?

Adding up the votes in my fantasy poll, the weight of numbers in Stornoway, Point and Lochs carry the vote in favour for the whole of Lewis and Harris. But Harris (almost to a man and woman) have voted against. What would that change? Should the 2,000-odd residents of Harris prevent the 8,000-odd residents of Stornoway and Lochs from travelling to Skye on a Sunday? And what about the people of Skye, don't they have a voice?

A referendum would certainly satisfy my curiosity (and it would certainly prevent some of those vomit-inducing debates in the Council Chamber where councillors solemly stand up and intone that all the people they have asked agree with them (in their 'impartial' door-to-door poll). But it actually wouldn't answer any of the questions many of us want to know, like why can't the Sports Centre open on Sunday if it is a Sports Centre for all the islands; and why should someone who lives in Geocrab decide whether I can visit my Aunty in Skye on a Sunday?

Anonymous said...

What's with the hysteria over this anyway? The ferry has been leaving and berthing at Tarbert on Sunday for years and no one has batted an eyelid. Surely the logical thing is for these costly "repositioning" runs to be included in the timetable and carry the paying public. Ferry crew and office staff are already employed on Sunday so the provision of a scheduled service is not going to increase cost either. How any business can justify operating 2 empty sailings a week through the winter is beyond me.
Simple fact is that no referendum is required nor a majority vote. If people do not want to use a Sunday ferry from Tarbert then that choice will still be availible to them even if the sailings start. Meanwhile those of us who would like the option of Sunday travel - that's travel, the same as flying, driving or getting a lift on the church minibus are to be denied if our councilors get their way.
If the majority view is so important in this debate, then why is it that we still have church services on Sunday in Harris when clearly the majority of Hearachs do not attend?
Folk have the right to attend church in the same way that I have a right to travel on Sunday. Simple - no costly consultation or referendum is required.

Anonymous said...


Sunday sailings on Lewis is going just fine???

I beg to differ - how many breakdowns have we had to endure since the Sunday sailings started?

You might scoff at the idea of divine intervention but at least build in a rigorous maintenance schedule to try and prevent them. Sunday was the maintenance day on the IOL - either that or start running two ferries.

Captain Swing said...

8.42 and 3.21

Yes there do seem to be more breakdowns which could be attributed to any number of things, ageing ferry, poor maintainance etc. But they also changed the fuel that the Isle of Lewis runs on, is it coincidence that these breakdowns occur more frequently since that happened?

Anonymous said...

Should have built a tunnel... but as someone else put it, you're stuck in an open prison now.

Supermarket shelves empty, people unable to get to the islands for occasions, unable to visit relatives in hospital. You wouldn't think it was the second decade of the 21st century.

digitam said...

We can have the choice for last minute cancellation for Sunday ferries to Harris sailings from Tarbert.