Letters to the Editor – Thursday September 2

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Mull ferry disgrace

The decision by CMAL not to proceed with the purchase of the vessel currently nearing completion identified by the Mull and Iona Ferry committee (MIFC) is not only unfortunate but disgraceful.

The so-called explanations given in the excellent coverage by the Oban Times were both facile and platitudinous and did not even have a ring of truth. The contempt for the efforts of MIFC and others was only exceeded by the extraordinary claim that they knew best and suggesting that their expertise exceeded that of Strathclyde Naval Architecture Department, whose report concluded that the vessel was eminently suitable, could be made to comply with MCA regulations with ease and for a modest sum, and was, indeed, a far more safe vessel than any in the CMAL fleet.

The arrogance is breathtaking. This from an organisation condemned by a parliamentary report last year as lacking competence and, indeed, relevance; that has presided over the FMEL contract fiasco; one that intends, apparently, to continue with a policy of ever larger mono hull ferries contrary to the requests of islanders, an organisation which, though it almost chartered Pentalina, ignores the success of Pentland Ferries with Pentalina and, more recently, Alfred, vessels, fully compliant with our regulations and almost identical to that sourced by MIFC.

Ironically, as Roy Pedersen has pointed out, CMAL does not suffer from underfunding, the problem is what they do with our money. They will intend to replace the Isle of Mull with an even larger vessel at a cost of some four or five times the cost of the MIFC-sourced vessel and the lead time will be of the order of five years.

The methods used by CMAL, as reported in the Oban Times, to make it impossible for the purchase to go ahead indicate that there was never a serious commitment to facilitate this purchase. That Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government continue to treat CMAL with any credibility beggars belief given their track record and it appears that they will continue to spend our money with profligacy.

The parliamentary enquiry, which ran to 129 pages has, sadly, been a waste of time and effort on the part of the 11 parliamentarians. What sort of government, whose record on procurement has been abysmal, is this where they commission an enquiry and kick it into the long grass as Mr Wheelhouse said he will do within days of the release. There are no grounds for optimism.
J Patrick Maclean, Oban.

Money could be better spent

After reading Martin Laing’s At Random in last week’s edition I have to agree with him; why spend £250,000 on a street that’s only a few hundred yards long when other parts of Argyll could do with a share of that money.

Take a look at Sandy Neil’s article Mull Fiddle Week, the photographs of all of these fantastic musicians playing in Tobermory Main Street in front of the town clock – both the street and the clock could do with a bit of a refurbishment, also the clock is running about four hours fast all summer.
John Mackay, by email.

MPAs need to be enforced

Following a report by the US-based, oceanic conservation group Oceana, which criticised government inaction on protecting Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas, I have just read a report from Greenpeace and was shocked to see that an industrial fishing vessel was again spotted in a marine protected area.
These areas are specifically designated to let nature recover and thrive. How can this possibly be legal?
We are supposed to be world leaders in this area and our government needs to act.
Janet Fox, Kilbirnie.

Financial independence

What a confident, really well-resourced country Ireland is. In contrast our UK has had the weakest economic recovery of any country in Northwest Europe since the 2008 financial crash, with our citizens having the lowest wealth per head.

The UK’s weak economic recovery stands in stark contrast to Ireland, which has seen a massive increase in GDP per capita of 37.8 per cent – six and a half times that of the UK, over the same period.

In addition to Ireland, the UK has also fallen behind Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Belgium, France, and Austria.

An analysis from the House of Commons Library, using IMF data, revealed the UK had the lowest growth in GDP per capita of any country in North west Europe between 2009 and 2021, at just 5.8 per cent. Now, 13 years on from the financial crash, it continues to have the lowest wealth per head of any country in northwest Europe.

On average, independent countries of Scotland’s size or smaller have seen an average increase in GDP per capita of +20.6 per cent, an increase of three and a half times that of the UK.

They all have the power to make their own decisions.
Tricia Grey, Lochgilphead.