Good news for BiFab as threat of administration lifted – Enormous relief for Arnish Yard

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is delighted that the threat to Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has been lifted.

A financial package to complete the contract has been provided by Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE and the partners to the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project, JCE Offshore.  The Scottish Government has also indicated that it will, if necessary, make available a commercial loan facility to BiFab.

The agreement follows work by the Scottish Government over the last week and intensive negotiations over the last two days led by the First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Fairwork and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy with Bifab, Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE, Siemens, and the partners in the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project.

Commenting Isles MP Angus MacNeil said:

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“Yesterday, I said that I was heartened that Nicola Sturgeon MSP First Minister of Scotland had made this a priority and I am delighted that the hard work of The Scottish Government, together with interested companies has resulted in a positive outcome.

“When I visited the Arnish Yard yesterday there was a determination from management and the GMB Union to find a solution.

“This is absolutely fantastic news and will be a huge relief for the Arnish workforce and their families.”



MacNeil visits Arnish Bi-Fab Yard

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil today visited the Arnish Yard in Lewis to speak with management and unions about the effect of the ongoing difficulty at Burntisland Fabrications (Bi-Fab).

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“There are difficulties with the contracts, we must remember that the work is high-quality, the fundamentals of Bi-Fab are right.  The difficulty is down to contract and cash-flow, we have to make sure that we bridge through this period.

“I am heartened that the First Minister of Scotland has made this a priority and has worked across a variety of companies and across government, working hard trying to find a resolution to these difficulties.

“I had a good and productive meeting today with the GMB Union and also with management at Arnish and we shall keep collaborating to find ways to bring about the situation we want to see at Arnish and Bi-Fab in general.

“Obviously this is a tough time for all concerned with Bi-Fab, and we have to ensure that we have a positive outcome.”


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Work continues to keep BiFab going – Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy updates Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has today spoken to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy who has confirmed that work is ongoing with the lead developers SSE and others, the main contractors and Government accountants to do their utmost to keep the successful engineering company BiFab going.

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Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“Clearly I am concerned for the jobs at Arnish and I know that many families will be very worried during this period of uncertainty.

“The lead developer SSE and the others, in conjunction with Copenhagen Partners and Red Rock have a huge part to play, as do the Royal Bank of Scotland, the main contractors Seaway Heavy Lifting, The Scottish Government and Price Waterhouse Cooper who are all working hard to find a solution.

“I spoke with Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse MSP today who assured me that a lot of hard work is going on to prevent job losses and to secure the future for BiFab.

“The Minister assures me that The Scottish Government will leave no stone unturned and that the First Minister is anxious to see a good outcome for BiFab.

“Ultimately I feel that BiFab is a very good engineering company who have been caught on the hook of a complex contract. It is important to bridge them through this period as they will be successful on their own two feet in the future as well maintaining and developing skills in Scotland and on Lewis contributing to the National economy directly and indirectly on a big scale.”


MacNeil concerned over uncertainty for Arnish Fabrication Yard

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has expressed his concern at media reports that Burntisland Fabricators, (BiFab) is on the verge of calling in administrators.

Bi-Fab has a yard at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis which employs in the region of 150 staff, in addition to two yards in Fife.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“This is a massive blow for the workforce at Arnish and their families who will undoubtedly be very worried.

“It is imperative that all agencies come together to save these jobs.

“I have tonight contacted Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy.”



Island schoolgirl confirmed as a British citizen – Successful intervention by Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is delighted to confirm that the case of the Island schoolgirl who was unable to obtain a passport because the Home Office was unable to confirm that she is a British citizen has now been resolved.

Mr MacNeil took this case up with Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP, at Home Office Questions at Westminster.


Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I am absolutely delighted that the Home Office has confirmed that this island schoolgirl is a British Citizen.

“When I raised this with Brandon Lewis MP, Immigration Minister, he told me that he was looking at this case personally and he has kept to his word.

“The family are now in the process of completing the passport application and they remain in contact with the Home Office, who are continuing to assist them with this process.

Grandparents of the schoolgirl said:

“This has been a very long and stressful experience for us all.

“We are delighted that our MP Angus MacNeil intervened on our behalf and continued to keep pressure on the Home Office and we want to publically thank Angus MacNeil for all of his assistance.”


Visit Scotland accused of ‘relinquishing responsibility for rural areas’

Isles MP’s disappointment at closure of Tourist Offices.

 Visit Scotland has been accused of ‘Relinquishing its responsibilities to rural areas’ following the announcement that Tourist Information Offices in Lochmaddy and Castlebay are to close. This follows on from last year’s closure of the Lochboisdale office and means that there is now no Visit Scotland presence in Uist and Barra – the 70 mile stretch from Vatersay to Berneray.

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Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said

“I am very disappointed at Visit Scotland’s decision to close the tourist information centres in Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist and Castlebay, Isle of Barra. Following the closure of the information centre in Lochboisdale last year this means that there is no Tourist Information centre in Uist and Barra

“At a time when tourism is increasing and the season extending this seems a strange decision and suggests that Visit Scotland are relinquishing responsibility to rural areas.

“I wrote to Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs and asked her to intervene following closure of the Lochboisdale office and I have again written to her following the latest closures seeking her intervention to change this decision. ”

A year round Visitor Information centre remains in Stornoway with a seasonal office in Tarbert but Mr MacNeil expressed concern for the future of these offices also given the closures elsewhere.

Calls for ‘Study’ on Public Service Obligation for Benbecula – Glasgow air service – Isles MP writes to Transport Minister


Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil is asking the Scottish Government to instigate a study on the introduction of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) on the Benbecula to Glasgow air service.

Transport & Islands Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP has recently stated that there are no plans to introduce a Public Service Obligation on the Benbecula to Glasgow air service.  However, Mr MacNeil is calling on the Transport & Islands Minister to reconsider due to the service not being comprehensive each week of the year.

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Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“There is a PSO on the Barra air service and there is competition on the Stornoway air service and this is good news.  However, Benbecula has neither and I believe that there is a case for a PSO on the Benbecula to Glasgow air service which would ensure that airfares and service levels as well as perhaps scheduling are reasonable for the Uist community.

“The Minister has recently stated that there are no plans to put in place a PSO on the Benbecula to Glasgow service and that a PSO would only be considered if the existing commercial air service ceased to operate and an alternative operator could not be found to serve the route on a commercial basis.

“I am asking the Minister to revisit this issue and that he starts a study on a PSO for this route, on the basis that the commercial operator cannot and does not run a full weekly service year round with some afternoons in winter not having a service, and the amount of public money already used on the route in the Air Discount Scheme.”


Cllr Calum MacMillan, Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eiriosgaigh agus Uibhist a Deas said:

“The fare paying passengers travelling to and from Uist are being disadvantaged by the current system. The occupancy rate is currently less than 30% which means that 70% of the total available seats on this service could be used for free. The fares of the 30% are generally paid for by government or by government agencies which means that the fares are set on a non-competitive basis which inflates the fares charged to non-government paid fares.”


Cllr Iain MacNeil, Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eiriosgaigh agus Uibhist a Deas said:

“I welcome the support of our MP in one of a number of priorities identified by Uist and Barra Councillors.

“I was disappointed when the initial approach to the Minister was turned down but had agreed to continue making a case for a PSO, so this intervention by Angus Brendan is timely and welcome.”

Constructive Meeting with Energy Minister on Island Renewable says Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil had a warm and productive meeting today with Energy Minister Richard Harrington, Parliamentary under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Mr Harrington confirmed with Mr MacNeil that the requests from the UK government side to progress with Island renewables is ongoing in a very straightforward manner.


Commenting after the meeting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I am very grateful to the Energy Minister, Richard Harrington MP, who has been very helpful and open in his dealings throughout this process.

“I asked Mr Harrington about the request to the European Commission which was submitted on 11th October, he said it was a simple and straightforward request and that the Commission has to respond by 11 December.  The Commission could respond with more questions, this remains to be seen, but if they do have more questions it would delay the process by 2 months.

“Mr Harrington confirmed that the interconnector will be paid for through the CfD process by the winning bidder repaying the capital over a number of years.  The Minister also confirmed that while projects will have to demonstrate some community benefit the ultimate decision will be made on the basis of price.

“I questioned the Minister further on the Statutory Instrument and he confirmed that the process for this can happen in tandem with the European Commission.  A consultation will open in the next 2-3 weeks for approximately 12 weeks, it is currently being written and will then go through the government departments for clearance.

“The slightly unfortunate news is that Mr Harrington on departmental advice says he cannot ring-fence island renewables inside Pot 2, as he is prevented from doing so through State Aid.  The few times they have ring-fenced, it has been for a minimum of approximately 10 MW for tidal and even then it was not successful.

“Mr Harrington told me that any upgrades done on the mainland will be on the same basis as upgrades from offshore which come under an Ofgem formula.

“Mr Harrington remains very interested in Island renewables, he has promised that he will keep in touch with progress and I am very grateful for his assistance with island renewables.”



Concern with MCA delays in tasking Lifeboats – Isles MP meets with Maritime Minister at Westminster

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil today met the Minister of State for Transport Legislation and Maritime, John Hayes MP, to discuss concerns about delays in the MCA process of tasking Lifeboats following a distress call.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Twice this week, I tried to secure a temporary urgent question in Parliament which was unfortunately turned down by the Speaker.  The Department for Transport was made aware and the Maritime Minister, John Hayes MP requested to speak to me today.

“Mr Hayes assured me that he is “all over this like a rash” and that he will be investigating further.

“In the meantime, I am hoping that the coastguard takes action to ensure that delays, as we have seen in various areas around the MCA’s UK coastline, come to an end. The checks, which can be lengthy compared to the urgency of a situation prior to tasking a RNLI lifeboat, can lead to people being left in cold water while waiting for a lifeboat that has yet to be tasked despite the alarm being raised.

“Speaking to RNLI crews, they would much prefer to be called out to false alarms than to be late on the scene at an emergency incident.

“An hour can mean an awful lot of difference to survival and can also result in a larger search area if there has been a tide running and people have been taken by the tide.

“I am optimistic that this issue will be addressed, the frank conversation I had with the Minister heartened me, he is serious about this and understands the gravity of the issue. We are of the one mind that things must improve.

“The Minister is trying to discern the nature of the problem and I hope that we will see improvements in the future, meantime I would hope that the MCA is urgently reviewing procedures and learning from MAIB investigations.”


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Case of island schoolgirl raised by Isles MP at Home Office Questions

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil today took the case of the Island schoolgirl who is unable to obtain a passport, directly to Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis MP at Home Office Questions at Westminster.

Last week, Mr MacNeil publicised that The Home Office was asking a 14-year-old schoolgirl who was born and raised in Scotland, to register as a British citizen because they are unable to confirm that she is a British citizen.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This case has touched the hearts of so many people and I was glad to get the opportunity today to question Brandon Lewis MP, Immigration Minister at Home Office Questions.

“The Minister responded by saying that he is personally looking into the case and that he would get back to me over the coming days.

“I welcome the fact that the Minister is personally looking at this and I hope that his intervention leads to the outcome we all want – for this schoolgirl to receive her Status Letter which will allow for her to apply for a passport.”