Douglas Ross sought promises from First Minister Humza Yousaf.
By Bill Heaney
The Scottish Conservatives have called for island and coastal communities to be compensated for the SNP’s failure to build a working ferry network.
At First Minister’s Questions, Douglas Ross challenged Humza Yousaf on the cancellation of ferries to South Uist and other Scottish islands.
The Scottish Conservative leader raised examples of islanders who had been impacted by the lack of a working ferry service.
He quoted a shop owner in North Uist, Louise Cook, who told the Scottish Conservatives: “I’m really at my wits’ end with all the disruption caused by our aging ferry fleet and the horrific impact this is having on my business…When I should be increasing staff hours, I have had to cut them drastically. It’s utterly appalling and really upsetting.”
Douglas Ross also raised the case of Eileen Macdonald of the Doune Braes Hotel on the Isle of Lewis. She said: “Enough is enough. The island is in such a terrible way. Hotel bookings are more than 50 per cent down. In 40 years of living on Lewis, there is no vibrancy, we are in despair. We cannot be fobbed of with empty words any longer.”
Doune Braes Hotel at Carloway, Isle of Lewis – bookings down by 50 per cent.
The Scottish Conservative Leader also highlighted reports today quoting Christina Morrison, who owns the Croft and Cuan near the Lochboisdale ferry terminal. She said: “We don’t want compensation, we need compensation.”
He also raised reports quoting South Uist islander Gary Young, who said his son has allergies and they are forced to wait on medication. He said the situation “has made us question how long we’ll stay on the island”.
In response, Humza Yousaf admitted the disruption to the ferry network was having a “significant impact on communities”.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP’s failure to deliver a working ferry network is ruining lives, damaging businesses, costing jobs and driving islanders to despair.
“Humza Yousaf doesn’t seem to grasp how critical and urgent this problem has become. Jobs and livelihoods are on the line because of the SNP’s failures.
“The disruption goes much further than the economy. The SNP’s failures risk driving people away from island communities.
“The blame for all this lies squarely at the door of the SNP. The failure of Humza Yousaf’s party to build a working ferry network is causing chaos.
“Islanders and coastal communities deserve compensation for the SNP’s failure to build a working ferry network.
“Instead of making that commitment, Humza Yousaf trotted out the same empty platitudes. Islanders want and expect action from him. They must be compensated for the turmoil they’ve been put through by the SNP’s ferry failures.”