Following the meeting held in Edinburgh this afternoon where the Transport and Islands Minister, Derek Mackay MSP, convened a Task Force to deal with the ongoing Ullapool-Stornoway ferry link debacle, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil said:

“While I welcome the Task Force meeting today, there should only really be one issue to be addressed and that is the postponement of harbour works in Ullapool from the summer period to a quieter period of the year.

“The plan to carry out harbour works at Ullapool was originally rushed and flawed as the six week period of the works were due to straddle the Easter weekend.  Now this has slipped by another two months and even more chaotically, this is now due to render the end of April, all of May and the beginning of June, as a period when there will be no vehicular traffic on the Stornoway-Ullapool route with cars instead being diverted through Tarbert and Uig.

“That this should be considered at this time of year is simply not recognising the importance of the tourist season to the islands economy.  So I reiterate my previous call that this work should slip for a further 9 months, to a period of the year that would involve minimal economic damage and would be more acceptable to people.

“It would appear that no consideration has been given to the costs and losses faced by tourism, haulage and other ferry users, if the work takes place at a busier time of year.

“I would again urge the Transport and Islands Minister, Derek Mackay MSP to meet with those representing haulage and tourism who will be at the sharp end if this work goes ahead as currently proposed.  This is squarely an issue to do with Islands and Transportation which is in Derek Mackay’s brief and he has to hear their concerns about these works.”