Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have today criticised the Scottish Government for failing in their budget to honour their commitment to fair funding for internal ferry services in the Northern Isles.
In a statement in Holyrood this afternoon, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay reneged on a commitment he made as Transport Minister to fair funding for internal ferry services in Orkney and Shetland.
According to Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, in doing so the Finance Secretary has “ignored the expressed will of Parliament”, which last week (6 December) voted to call on the Scottish Government to set out how it intends to honour the commitments made to both communities.
Earlier in the day, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur urged the First Minister to step in and ensure her government delivered on its promise of fair ferry funding. Speaking in the chamber at FMQs, Mr McArthur argued that the decision by RMT members at Orkney Ferries to back strike action will have “disastrous” consequences “for the island communities utterly reliant on those services” and highlighted the urgency of resolving the issue over funding.
Responding to Mr McArthur, the First Minister said she would do “the right thing by island communities” but then refused to take any action.
In a statement following the budget, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said:
“The decision by this government to abandon the promises it made to the communities in Orkney and Shetland is reprehensible. Having committed to fair funding for internal ferry services in the Northern Isles back in 2014, the Finance Secretary has chosen to leave the communities who rely on these lifeline services high and dry.
“Mr Mackay and this SNP government have also shown contempt for the will of parliament.
“We will now need consider the detail of the government’s budget over the coming weeks. However, we are determined to bring forward an amendment ahead of the vote next month that will allow parliament to restate its support for fair funding for our internal ferry services. This is something we will be discussing with the other parties in the run up to that vote.
“In the meantime, Mr Mackay has done himself and his government no favours by abandoning his promises and ignoring parliament. This will not have gone unnoticed in the communities left facing the consequences of his decision.”