17 February 2018
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has been continuing the fight for an additional ferry for the overbooked life line service between Stornoway and Ullapool.
Islanders and visitors alike were faced with fully booked sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool during many months of last year.
She met with Calmac chiefs as well as Council leaders in an attempt to have the situation resolved and a second vessel operating primarily as a Freight Ferry put in place.
The MSP stated “It is a widely accepted fact that there is simply not enough capacity on this vital life line route during many months of the year.
"This has a huge effect on the normal life of the Islanders as well as a detrimental effect on the wider economic environment.
"Businesses are fearful that many of their bookings which have been made for this coming season will suffer as they did last year.
"They fear that the attraction of visiting the Islands will decrease as the tourists find it impossible to travel and then have to plan to go elsewhere.
"We saw people trying to get home for funerals and those wishing to visit relatives being prevented from doing so because of the unavailability of ferry capacity.
This led to involvement from Humza Yousaf, the Minister for Transport and Islands looking into the possibility of locating a suitable vessel last year."
Rhoda continued, “I appreciate that finding the special type of vessel required for this route is not easy, however following a bit of investigation it would appear that the MV Clipper Ranger which previously served that exact purpose is available and could be seen as at least one part of the solution to this serious situation.”
Mrs Grant concluded, “It is my attention to once again contact CALMAC and Humza Yousef to get this serious problem resolved well before the start of the season, which is Easter.
"There has been enough procrastination, its action that is required now to ensure that this truly is a life line service for the Islanders.”