Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP has today accused the Scottish Government of creating havoc for islanders, as he revealed that CalMac have spent more than £850,000 in customer rights claims since 2018, including £215,000 in the first four months of this financial year alone.
A Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request has shown that, since 2018 when new ferries were supposed to be introduced on Western Isles routes, CalMac has spent a total of £863,000 on customer rights claims.
These claims consist of money paid out to customers for meals and accommodation, transport and compensation as a result of cancellations.
This figure breaks down as follows:
Financial Year 2018-19: £159,000
Financial Year 2019-20: £177.000
Financial Year 2020-21: £51,000
Financial Year 2021-22: £261,000
Financial Year 2022-23 (to July 31st): £215,000
The new information comes as a BBC Disclosure documentary analysed a leaked dossier, which suggested that the Scottish Government’s awarding of a £97m ferries contract to Ferguson Marine shipyard may have been rigged.
The Scottish Government awarded a contract to Ferguson Marine to build two ships (Glen Sannox and the as-yet unnamed Hull 802) that would regenerate CalMac’s ageing fleet.
However, the ships will not be ready for at least five years beyond their original deadlines and the overall costs have risen to 2.5 times the initial budget of £97 million.
Commenting on the news, Mr Rennie said:
“The bill for cancellations and compensation is soaring because the Scottish ferry network is in such a state.
“The last year has seen new levels of havoc.
“Aging boats are breaking down and it is having a huge impact on islanders, tourists and travellers.
“Delays in the construction of two new ferries by Ferguson Marine mean that island communities are still being put on hold by the Scottish 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 Ferguson Marine, represent value for money.”