Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has again pressed the Scottish Government to honour its commitments to fair ferry funding. This follows news that government funding for Orkney’s lifeline ferry services has decreased by £200,000 since last year, leaving a shortfall of £1,500,000, and that fares are to increase by 3%.
Mr McArthur questioned Minister for Public Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, in the Scottish Parliament earlier this afternoon, asking how this shortfall “squares with the government’s commitment to the principle of fair funding for our lifeline internal ferry services”.
The Minister said that the government “recognise” the challenges in running these ferry services and that they have been “clear” in their budget that adequate funding is to be delivered.
Commenting after the exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“We now know that the Scottish Government has cut funding for Orkney’s internal ferry services by £200,000 compared to last year. This has left a £1.5m shortfall in the Council’s budget for delivering these lifeline services.
“It is baffling how Ministers think this approach is consistent with their commitment to the principle of fair ferry funding. It certainly flies in the face of the will of parliament, which voted for the government to deliver on its earlier promises.
“Meantime, the island communities that rely on these lifeline services are left picking up the tab, including a 3% increase in fares this year.
“Ministers may ‘recognise’ the challenges of running these services, but they also must recognise their obligations genuinely to provide adequate funding”.