David Stewart MSP

MSP calls for action on Ferry Fares

10 November 2008

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands regional Labour MSP, has spoken up in favour of the petition calling for lower ferry fares to west coast islands and Orkney and Shetland.

The Public Petitions Committee agreed unanimously on Tuesday to ask the Scottish Government to consider local people’s calls for a 40% discount in ferry fares.

Mr Stewart spoke at the Committee in support of the petition set up by Joan Richardson of Jura Community Council on behalf of a consortium of interested parties from Orkney, Shetland and the west coast islands. He has been involved with the group since the launch of the campaign.

He commented after the meeting: “As a Highlands and Islands MSP I am only too aware that transport links are absolutely crucial to every aspect of island life.

“On the smaller islands the very viability of the community will rely on its transport links. In the interests of fairness it is vital that this inequality is addressed.

“The introduction of the RET pilot to the Western Isles will have a corresponding detrimental effect on the other island groups.

“Monitoring the impact of a discount scheme over three years can not be acceptable if it also means sitting back and watching the decline of those communities not participating in it.”

He added: “We need to look at a long term and sustainable solution for all ferry services to ensure an equitable and affordable service.

“The ferry inquiry which I instigated at the Scottish Parliament identified the need for a national ferries strategy which will fully meet the personal and economic needs of those living on and travelling to our island communities.

“What came through in all the evidence was the need for better integration between transport services; an active strategy to develop more routes; a need to ensure faster and more frequent routes and ways to ensure better utilisation of Cal Mac vessels,” said Mr Stewart.

“I am also very disappointed the Government is resisting calls to add ferries to the remit of Transport Scotland. I would support a call for a more joined up strategy in terms of transport planning and that Transport Scotland creates a maritime division to look at how all our services can link together better.

“Ferries are a lifeline service and a key ingredient in the sustainability of our fragile island communities.

“I hope the review already being carried out by the Scottish Government takes action to resolve the concerns of local people expressed in this petition.”

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Written by davidstewart

November 10, 2008 at 9:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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