By Bill Heaney
The eye-watering cost of the Calmac MV Glen Sannox and Vessel 802, which is still just a hull, was revealed by SNP finance secretary Kate Forbes in the Scottish Parliament today.
Ms Forbes told Tory MSP Graham Simpson: ” The cost to complete the vessels remains the same as was reported in the turnaround director’s December 2019 report to the Parliament—namely, between £110.3 million and £114.3 million.”
Mr Simpson’s reply was scathing: “The turnaround director, Tim Hair, said in his 30 September letter that Ferguson’s uses seven different data systems that do not talk to one another. In other words, no one knows what anyone else is doing. Is it any wonder that the vessels are so late and so over budget?
The second hand ferry purchased by the SNP government – cost £9 million. It was for sale at under £6 million, Tory tells parliament.
“Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd—CMAL—has just ordered a small, slow, second-hand ferry from Norway, the diesel-powered MV Utne, at an overall cost of £9 million. It was for sale at under £6 million.
“Will the cabinet secretary explain what the gap is for? Is it just for livery? Why are we going for gas-guzzling cast-offs and not for the same kind of eco-friendly ferries that the Norwegians are buying?”
Kate Forbes, pictured left, hit back: “It is important that the Government looks at all options for ensuing that our lifeline vessels are secure and resilient. I am sure that the member joins me in that view.
“When it comes to the future of the fleet, we have committed £500 million over the next few years to ensure that we invest in ferry infrastructure right across the west coast.”
Predictably, there was a protest from Stuart McMillan (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP), in whose constituency the controversial boats are being constructed.
He said: “Does the cabinet secretary agree that the only way for shipbuilding at Port Glasgow and Greenock and Inverclyde to continue in future was for the yard to be taken into public ownership?
“The Tories’ record of hammering shipbuilding communities is there for all to see. Nobody should listen to the Tories when it comes to saving shipbuilding jobs.”
Ms Forbes welcomed his comment: “The member is right to remind the chamber that, in the face of a decade of Conservative cuts, the efforts of the Government saved not only Ferguson Marine from closure but more than 300 jobs that support the communities of Inverclyde.
“Those efforts ultimately ensured that two much-needed vessels will be completed and that the yard has a future.
“We are investing in the future: we are supporting the yard to be more efficient, more competitive and more able to win contracts on the merits of its success.
“We will always back the shipbuilding industry in Scotland and deliver not only for Inverclyde but for our island communities, which rely on those lifeline services.”