ALBA Party warn against “First Step” towards Calmac Privatisation
ALBA Party have today warned that Calmac faces the threat of Privatisation if it is not awarded a lucrative £1Billion+ contract to run ferries in the West of Scotland.
Publicly owned Calmac currently runs all ferry routes that are part of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, today, the Scottish Government said that the next CHFS contract could be tendered - meaning that Calmac is now “on the first step towards privatisation” according to Alba Party if the decision to directly award the contract to Calmac isn’t made.
CalMac already operates the routes on the west coast of Scotland, which include the inner and outer Hebrides.
The current contract, which was awarded by the Scottish Government, covers an eight-year period until October 2024.
On Tuesday Cabinet Secretary Neil Gray claimed UK Government procurement law prevented the Scottish Government from directly awarding new ferry orders to the Ferguson’s shipyard.
CalMac runs 33 vessels to over 50 ports and harbours, across 200 miles of Scotland's west coast and completes 162,750 sailings a year.
Commenting Alba Party Holyrood leader Ash Regan MSP said:
“The Scottish Government should directly award the next contract for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services to the current operator, Scotland’s public sector ferry company CalMac.
“We all know that there are issues with the current fleet, but these are not the fault of Calmac as they can only run a service with the ferries that CMAL - the Government agency that procures the ferries - give to them.
“Scotland needs to have a thought out maritime industrial strategy as opposed to making decisions on a case by case basis without any consideration on how they impact on the wider economy. This shouldn’t just be for the West of the country but should also include the future of North Link ferries to Orkney and Shetland in the equation as well as a future for East Coast services to the continent.
“Opening up this £1bn lifeline ferry contract to a tendering process would be the first step towards privatisation of Calmac.
“Scotland has a state-owned company that procures ferries and a publicly owned shipyard so it simply makes no sense to then privatise the publicly owned company that runs ferries.“