‘Catastrophic’ ferry failure by Nicola Sturgeon leaves Scottish islanders rationing

·2 min read
 Calmac ferry scotland - Richard Johnson / Alamy Stock Photo
Calmac ferry scotland - Richard Johnson / Alamy Stock Photo

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of abandoning Scotland’s islanders "on a catastrophic scale" after disruption at a state-owned ferry company led to rationing.

Willie Rennie, the former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said confidence in the government had been "shattered" by ferry disruption affecting residents of the Western Isles.

Some shops were forced to ration essential items such as milk and bread over the weekend after a ferry operated by Edinburgh-owned CalMac was taken out of service for a third time in a matter of weeks, The Herald on Sunday reported.

"What I don't understand is why the SNP from the Western Isles aren't spitting mad – why are they not doing what I'm doing and calling for parliament to be recalled? Their blood pressure should be sky high," said Mr Rennie, who led the Scottish Liberal Democrats for a decade and stood down last year.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman, added: "People in the island communities throughout Scotland have been warning the SNP and the Greens for years that this type of thing could happen, and funnily enough it has done.

"For the Scottish government to sit back and watch failure on a catastrophic scale as they are doing is unforgivable in my book."

Safety issues on one of CalMac’s oldest ferries led to a three day shutdown on two routes between Uig on Skye, Lochmaddy on North Uist and Tarbert on Harris.

CalMac insisted over the weekend that all food was being shipped and it was not fair to say that any shortages were the direct result of ferry issues.

CalMac's managing director Robbie Drummond has apologised for disruption, telling the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday that he wanted to encourage people to see the “brilliant scenery” of the Western Isles.

"What we really need is that long-term investment program," he added.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said the transport minister last week held a meeting with  local politicians and other stakeholders to discuss the issues relating to recent outages.

“CalMac added a number of additional sailings to help with essential supplies to the islands and we continue to work with CalMac," he said.

“CalMac forms part of the local resilience partnership. They remain in close local contact with communities and hauliers and are working with them to prioritise the movement of essential supplies."