Regional MSP Rhoda Grant calls on council to find silver lining in Scottish Government’s failed attempt to fund Uig Harbour redevelopment

Rhoda Grant is questioning the Transport Secretary Michael Matheson on the issue.

A NORTH MSP is calling on Highland Council to find a silver lining in the Scottish Government’s failure to adequately fund the Uig Harbour improvement scheme.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant last week learned the major upgrade to accommodate the Uig triangle ferry has hit the buffers, thanks to a government funding shortfall.

Strengthening of the council-owned berth is required for the delayed replacement of MV Hebrides.

Council officials told Mrs Grant tenders for the upgrade exceeded the government’s funding allocation.

Mrs Grant has now written to the local authority’s chief executive Donna Manson expressing hope that the council can use the setback to its advantage.

She said: “I want the Council to reassure the community a silver lining lies behind this delay in that it will give its officials the opportunity to use the added time to listen to and work with the community so that changes to improve the final scheme can be made accordingly.”

Hopes were high the Uig triangle ferry would kick-start regeneration in the community and make the harbour more accessible for tourists with disabilities.

The council’s proposal to replace the existing steps sparked an outcry. The council said any scheme to replace the steps with a pontoon would occupy too much pier space as well as being unsuitable for the wave climate in the inner harbour.

However, an online petition pressing the need for a “safer” and more disabled-friendly pontoon option continues to gather support.

And it has also fuelled a petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee which calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that local authorities provide access for those with disabilities at public piers and harbours.

There are also calls in the community for the area occupied by the existing terminal building to be redesigned with retail and starter business units.

Mrs Grant said: “The government’s investment in the Uig Triangle ferry service, which involves a new and improved ferry vessel and major upgrade of Uig Harbour, is enormously important for the future prosperity and growth of the Western Isles. Clearly, the budget and target schedule for the programme have proved unrealistic and I am writing to the Transport Minister Michael Matheson to ask for a complete picture of what went wrong. Construction was due to begin two winters ago and here we are at a standstill with no timeline in sight. It’s back to the drawing board, a total waste of consultancy fees and we find this out the same week Highlands and Islands Enterprise makes its eyewatering announcement Covid-19 has blown a £2.9 billion hole in the Highlands and Islands economy.”



Highland Council tells Rhoda Grant MSP plans to redevelop Uig pier have been shelved due to a shortfall in Scottish Government project funding.

HIGHLAND Council has said redevelopment plans for Uig Pier have been shelved thanks to a Scottish Government funding shortfall.

The local authority said tenders returned for the project “exceeded the funding allocation from Transport Scotland”.

In a letter to MSP Rhoda Grant this week, council officials said: “Unfortunately, the tenders returned for Uig exceeded the funding allocation from Transport Scotland – and whilst we and Transport Scotland remain committed to provide enhanced facilities at Uig – construction works have been paused whilst we reconsider procurement routes and budgets. This will mean that we will not be able to progress the works and thus the outage that was planned from September of next year will now be deferred for at least 12 months.”

Strengthening of the council-owned berth is required for the delayed replacement of MV Hebrides.

Mrs Grant said while the new pier was not needed right away, this highlighted major concern over the government’s willingness to adequately fund infrastructure projects.

 She said: “The council has made it clear that the tenders are so far out they have had to pull this project for the foreseeable. The community will want to understand what has gone wrong and I am writing to the council and to the government’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson to get some answers.

It appears the government hasn’t managed to do its sums correctly and has underfunded this scheme.”

 Mrs Grant has been in correspondence with the council and the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the suitability of the scheme for people with disabilities.

She added: “Concerns were raised that the plan to upgrade the pier does not include disabled access the water so I asked Highland Council to give me a commitment that an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) would be undertaken before any works went ahead. When I asked for an update this week I was surprised to be told that it had not been done and that the scheme was being shelved.”