06-06-2012 : Northern Isles' MSPs Hold Further Talks with Serco on Ferry Contract
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott held further talks this afternoon with Serco about the new lifeline ferry contract for the Northern Isles. The meeting in the Scottish Parliament follows last week’s decision by the Court of Session to allow the contract with Serco to be signed by Scottish Ministers and comes as concerns continue to be raised in the islands about various aspects of what is proposed for the service after July.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr McArthur said:
“Today’s meeting provided a good opportunity for me to highlight once again some of the main concerns being expressed in Orkney about the new ferry contract. While other issues were discussed, there was a particular focus on timetabling on the Stromness-Scrabster route, the adequacy of freight provision and future arrangements for staffing and sourcing locally.
“I know that further meetings with stakeholders are planned in Orkney and Shetland over the coming weeks. It is vitally important that Serco continues to listen carefully to what users of the service in the islands are saying and responds positively.
“These are lifeline services for the islands and must properly reflect the current and future needs of those living and working in Orkney and Shetland”.
Tavish Scott added:
“I urged Serco to continue discussions with freight businesses and others across Shetland who depend on the freight capacity that Shetland has. I stressed the importance of this service to the Shetland economy where no alternative exists to moving goods to and from Aberdeen. I also want to see security for Northlink staff and a seamless transfer. I also encouraged Serco management to be based in Shetland as this would allow a greater understanding of the challenges faced in running the lifeline service from a Shetland perspective.
“It is right that Serco spend time meeting the SIC, organisations and private business. I know that today (Wednesday) they were meeting freight interests in Lerwick. That dialogue must continue so that Serco builds on the success of Northlink for the future.”