We recognise that ferry services play a vital role in the lives of islanders and want to see a greater emphasis on improving reliability and value for money. The SNP have repeatedly let island communities down by allowing harbour infrastructure and vessels to degrade and by failing to improve their performance.
Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly challenged the SNP Government over its poor management of the Ferguson Marine yard. Scottish civilian shipbuilding, which used to be a proud part of our national tradition, is now being totally mismanaged by the SNP.
I agree that it is a national scandal to see that the delivery of the two overdue and over-budget CalMac ferries has been delayed again. These ferries were originally due to enter service in 2018 but are now scheduled to be delivered in 2023. On top of that these ferries are now expected to cost £250 million, 2.5 times more than originally scheduled, wasting funds that could be used to fund our essential services.
The Scottish Conservatives support introducing long-term contracts for ferry operators as part of a review of island connectivity, aimed at simplifying ferry services and ensuring they are as sustainable, efficient and effective as possible. We are also calling on the Scottish Government to answer important questions such as why did they give Ferguson Marine these contracts when they were warned multiple times not to do so.