By Bill Heaney
New information about the Clyde ferries scandal has been dragged out of the SNP government using a freedom of information request.
Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP, right, has today labelled the Scottish Government’s handling of Scotland’s ferries disruption an “omnishambles” .
This came hard on the heels of new information showing that between 2018 and 2022 there were just 291 days when sailings ran according to their timetable.
A freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats found that between 1st January 2018 and 31st August 2022, there were only 291 days (one in six) when all sailings “performed to schedule”.
In 2022 so far, there have been just 16 days when ferry timetables operated as scheduled. Of all cancelled sailings, 15% have been as a result of technical faults with the CalMac fleet.
Two of the ageing fleet should have been replaced by two new ferries, Glen Sannox and Hull 802, currently being built at Ferguson Marine.
This week it was announced that their cost has risen again to three times over budget, with both vessels expected to be further delayed and Hull 802 moved to 2024. Both ferries are five years late.
During a debate in Parliament this week, Mr Rennie stated that, “the SNP are the reason for this scandal” and that “in any normal government adopting international norms, ministers would resign without delay.”
A BBC Disclosure documentary also revealed that Ferguson Marine may have received preferential treatment when bidding for the government contract to build the new ships.
Responding to the new information uncovered by the party under freedom of information, Mr Rennie said: “First, we learn that there were nearly 1,000 cancelled or late sailings on the Glen Sannox route. Next, we learn that almost £900K has been spent on customer compensation. Now, we learn that there were a mere 291 days over five years when sailings actually operated to their timetables.
“There seems to be no end to this saga. It’s an utter omnishambles, the fault of which sits sorely and squarely with the SNP Government.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats would tackle delays, breakdowns and cancellations by giving the ferry network the funding it has been starved of for years and allowing communities to plan ahead for replacing creaking ferries.
“We would also introduce a wider economic strategy that ensures government projects, such as this one at Ferguson Marine, represent value for money.”