Comment posted Northern Isles ferry contract sends signals to west coast by Robert Wakeham.
Talk of the devil – just this morning received through the post an offer from EDF Energy (Electricite de France) to switch to them and get ‘energy from low-carbon generation’.
I could have sworn ‘the Hydro’ (aka Scottish & Southern Energy) produce extremely low carbon electricity in this part of the world, but EDF tell me that theirs is 3.9% from renewable and 61.8% from nuclear generation.
That’ll include those state-run nuclear plants on the Rhone south of Lyon that had the choice of shutting down or melting down during the extreme heatwave a few years ago. Now’s the chance to renationalise our electricity service, but I think I’ll stick to the Hydro.
Robert Wakeham also commented
- The BBC is now saying that the new Northern Isles ferry contract with Serco has been put on hold due to a legal challenge from another bidder – Streamline – who’s claiming to be more competitive. Heaven forfend that the government is as cack-handed as SPT in framing ferry contracts.
- Since the contract is organised by the government for a service requiring massive injections of public cash, surely the ‘normal rules’ dictate that a change of operator with continuation of the same level of service requires wholesale transfer of existing staff at the same conditions of employment?
- The shift of the northern ferries from quasi-state to private operation is perhaps less radical than it seems, given that they had been operated by P&O before that (the co-founder of that shipping company was a Shetlander). What might happen in the future could be a lot more controversial; Serco used to run the Manchester Metrolink tram system, but it’s now in the hands of RATP – originally just the Paris city public transport undertaking, and still state owned. Down in England, as a result of electricity privatisation, a lot of people are customers of EDF – the French state electricity authority. So the British drive for privatisation can result in re-nationalisation, in these cases by France. Bizarre indeed, and it could happen to ferries.
- There’s also the question of how the contract was written by the government; it may be that Serco offered the service improvements as an ‘extra’ to what the specification required. It would be interesting to know what improvements Northlink offered, and also how their price compared with that of Serco.
- Is it not the case that Shetland businesses were critical of Northlink’s service a few months ago, when it was down to one ship as each of the three went to Birkenhead for overhaul, and the winter weather further disrupted services? In the past Northlink used their CalMac connections to provide a ship for the Scrabster – Stromness service on occasion, avoiding the need to pull one of the Shetland ships off the Lerwick service.
While Serco might only run the Woolwich ferry, in the past they’ve held the council contract to manage the Islay-Jura link.
The idea of reducing speed to save fuel has been punted before – by the government – and withdrawn in the face of user objections.
Keith Brown’s trumpeting of ‘improvements to the journey experience’ sounds very hollow coming from the government transport minister who has so far shied away from facing up to the shambles that is SPT’s maladministration of the Kilcreggan – Gourock ferry contract.
‘Cherry picking’ was always a central objection to breaking up the Calmac network for separate tendering.
Recent comments by Robert Wakeham
- First Minister’s choice not to condemn mob behaviour proves Farage point
Farage was in Edinburgh to raise the profile of UKIP – don’t underestimate wee Nige.
- Walsh to lead all but Lib Dems, Conservatives and George Freeman
This reads uncannily like a description of Tommy Sheridan’s erstwhile political buddies – although they, thank goodness, have never managed to grab the reins of power.
- Finally, SNP Government delivers a passenger ferry capable of seeing off Western Ferries
There’s a quite accurate measure of economic activity if you look around at where tower cranes signify construction in progress, and there are more in London than in the whole of the rest of Britain. Last autumn at a do in London I suggested to a senior Canary Wharf construction executive that London was increasingly behaving like a separate ‘city state’, with an economy that operated independently to that of the rest of Britain.
He was dismissive of this idea, but I’m not so sure.
- Amazon given government grants
It’s worse than that – Amazon has been instrumental in destroying many small bookshops, which being ‘captive’ local businesses paid national and local taxes and employed local people. I doubt that they qualified for much in the way of government financial help at all, but I do know that they became browsing places for Amazon customers who – once they’d decided what they wanted – went on line to buy from good old Amazon.
The really grotesque icing on the cake is that – while multinational sharks like Amazon, Google and Starbucks are free to claim, quite legally, that technically they make little or no profit in Britain – Britain has at the same time, by reason of the culture of business deregulation, become the country of choice for the world’s most corrupt, least transparent companies.
No exaggeration – just read the 6-page feature ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass plates’ in today’s ‘Private Eye’.
- Home Secretary’s whole life sentences for police killers pressures Scottish Government to respond
The Furnace death was a domestic incident, and that’s clearly not what Theresa May was talking about; the issue is how to deal with criminals who kill police officers in the process of doing their job.
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