Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have today urged the Scottish Government to press ahead with reductions to Northern Isles ferry fares “no matter what”.
The call comes in response to the Transport Minister’s announcement in Parliament today of a review of procurement of ferry services.
In his statement, Humza Yousaf MSP said “it was highly likely” that Serco’s contract for the North Isles shipping service would be extended to 2019
Following the statement, local MSP’s Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur said,
“Islanders have been promised substantial reductions in the ferry fares we pay. The Scottish Government cut west coast fares by 50%. The Northern Isles want our fares to fall in line with those reductions to boost the islands economy and help local people, families and businesses with the cost of travelling on our lifeline routes.
“We want the Transport Minister to press ahead with these reductions no matter what happens to the re-tendering of the shipping contract.
“We look forward to meeting with Humza Yousaf in the coming days to reiterate this case. We also want to ensure that this review does not lead to disruption on existing services and we will be meeting Serco Northlink to discuss that, as well as the position of the local staff who work for the company.”
Tavish Scott also asked the Government to clarify what would happen to European tender rules if the UK leaves the EU.
The Transport Minister confirmed that the policy review announced today would consider that.
Tavish & Liam added; “If we leave the EU and the single market, then there will not be a tendering procedure to follow. The communities we represent will want to understand what the implications of that might be in practice.”
Notes to editors:
During the election campaign, the First Minister promised if re-elected the Scottish Government would begin work immediately to cut the cost of lifeline ferry services.
The Scottish Government currently subsidises routes on Scotland's West Coast through the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) scheme, which has cut average fares by 44% for passengers and 55% for cars.