29-05-2012 : Assurances Needed Now on Detail of Ferry Services
Commenting on the decision by the Court of Session to lift the suspension on the award of the Northern Isles Ferry Contract to Serco, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“Today’s decision by the Court of Session lifts some of the uncertainty surrounding the future of Orkney and Shetland’s lifeline ferry service. That is welcome, although questions still remain about the detail of what Scottish Ministers have secured from Serco.
“Particular concerns have been raised in relation to freight services and this is something I will be discussing with local businesses over the coming days. There can be no question of this service being reduced, and it is important that resilience is built in throughout the year.
“I will also be pressing Serco to make clear its intentions with regard to staffing and sourcing arrangements, where again the uncertainty surrounding these issues has not been helpful. However, I expect Serco now to deliver on its commitment to me and Tavish Scott earlier this month that it would look at increasing the extent to which it recruits and sources from within the islands.
“Finally, I know that Serco is keen to introduce more ‘dynamic pricing’, claiming this will lead to reduced fares for those booking well in advance on certain services. If the consequence of this is that those who are forced to book or change their bookings closer to the date of departure are forced to pay higher prices or penalty charges, Serco can expect fierce resistance”.