I don’t understand why ‘the MacBrayne group would …

Comment posted Streamline challenge on Northern Ferries tender underlines paralysis of MacBrayne group by Robert Wakeham.

I don’t understand why ‘the MacBrayne group would certainly face some difficulty in challenging any contract award’ – Why? Surely the tendering process has by law to be a level playing field, and if Northlink (which is surely more than just MacBrayne) were to find fault with the contract award they’d be just as free as any other tenderer to object. This is a government tender involving public money and must be organised fairly, or the media will have a field day and the Transport Minister will have some explaining to do. That’s quite apart from what the European authorities might see fit to do.

Robert Wakeham also commented

  • Are you sure you’re not over-egging the pudding? With two separate Northlink services (Stromness – Scrabster and Kirkwall – Aberdeen / Lerwick, the Pentland Ferries route from St Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay, and the freight ferry between Kirkwall and Aberdeen / Lerwick, to the outside observer it looks as if Orkney enjoys good lifeline ferry services.
  • I hope we’re not getting into some sort of Scottish public sector giant pile of sleaze centred on inadequately defined process in tendering for large public transport contracts. It could be stretching from the megabungling of the Edinburgh tram system procurument disaster at one end of the scale to the microbungling of the Gourock – Kilcreggan – Helensburgh ferry links at the other, taking in the Gourock – Dunoon affair and the ongoing saga of Calmac routes retendering on the way. Not sure about the quality of the second Forth Road Bridge contract, but time will tell.
  • There should be no reason on earth why any of the bidders for the contract should be prevented from challenging the outcome of the tendering process, if they consider themselves hard done by.
    The specific offers for ‘extras’, and of any conditions imposed by bidders – beyond what’s specified in the tender – should be public knowledge, and if they’re not then surely that’s cause enough for any or all of the losing bidders to challenge the outcome; the whole process should be transparent, and that popular let-out ‘commercial confidentiality’ shouldn’t be used as an excuse to conceal any controversial aspects of the process.

Recent comments by Robert Wakeham

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    Well said.
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    Two ‘thumbsdown’ already – it’s not just the trunk road engineers in denial!
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  • Emergency closure of A83 at Strone Point this afternoon
    AA – the stretch of the A83 between Tarbet and Arrochar has been flagged for overnight closures from the beginning of this week, continuing (I think) into next week, with hourly convoy ‘amnesties’ – and there should be a message on the electronic signs on the A82.
    It’s nothing whatsoever to do with the council – it’s one of Holyrood’s trunk roads, and management is delegated to a contractor – BEAR.
    But you’re right in questioning why this stretch is needing resurfaced, and it’s worse than you think – when it was done a few years ago, the opportunity was taken to deep excavate and replace the sub-base on the stretch by the railway station – but without addressing the main problem here, which is that this section is narrower than the rest, and can easily catch out coach & HGV drivers who aren’t familiar with the notion that substandard stretches of a trunk road can be left without the customary ‘road narrows’ warning signs (same problem as on the stretch by the filling station at the other side of Arrochar).
    Successive government road engineers have been in denial about this ever since the A83 from Tarbet to Inveraray was supposedly rebuilt to an 18ft (5.5m) standard width many years ago – and even the historic bridge at Inveraray only got traffic lights after two HGVs operated by a local company collided there.
  • Summer 2014 realised fears about coastguard numbers in new service
    Herakles has been busy recently, and not just with the coal carrier it towed into Scapa Flow – it had previously headed south to the aid of the nuclear waste carrier drifting without power near the Beatrice platform, and more recently (on the very day that the tail end of Gonzalo blew through) heading north to the aid of the steel pipe carrier drifting without power near Fair Isle.
    In both these cases other tugs took the ships in tow, to Invergordon and Lerwick, but there’s surely not much doubt that keeping a rescue tug at Kirkwall was eminently sensible.

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19 Responses to I don’t understand why ‘the MacBrayne group would …

  1. There should be no reason on earth why any of the bidders for the contract should be prevented from challenging the outcome of the tendering process, if they consider themselves hard done by.
    The specific offers for ‘extras’, and of any conditions imposed by bidders – beyond what’s specified in the tender – should be public knowledge, and if they’re not then surely that’s cause enough for any or all of the losing bidders to challenge the outcome; the whole process should be transparent, and that popular let-out ‘commercial confidentiality’ shouldn’t be used as an excuse to conceal any controversial aspects of the process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. The MacBrayne group would certainly face some difficulty in challenging any contract award, and have been in such a position before on the Ballycastle-Rathlin route. One has to wonder why the Scottish government took such an “interest” in the way that particular contract was awarded.
    ” Judith Ainsley, Guy Platten of CMAL and Mike Berry (Scottish Government Ferries Division) are hoping to meet with representatives of DRD (Department for Regional Development) Northern Ireland to discuss the tendering of the Rathlin-Ballycastle ferry service, this will be followed by a visit to the ferry operator”
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/935/0087905.doc

    Perhaps Streamline have done MacBrayne a favour in opening the process up to legal scrutiny.

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    • I don’t understand why ‘the MacBrayne group would certainly face some difficulty in challenging any contract award’ – Why? Surely the tendering process has by law to be a level playing field, and if Northlink (which is surely more than just MacBrayne) were to find fault with the contract award they’d be just as free as any other tenderer to object. This is a government tender involving public money and must be organised fairly, or the media will have a field day and the Transport Minister will have some explaining to do. That’s quite apart from what the European authorities might see fit to do.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. I think you will find streamline credit card machines has nothing to do with streamline shipping!

    Come on, poor research

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  4. NORTHERN ISLES FERRY TENDER
    Back
    13 May 2012

    “NorthLink Ferries Ltd today confirms that it is in continuing discussions with the Scottish Government to clarify certain aspects of the procurement process which eight days ago saw Scottish Ministers announce that the six-year contract to operate lifeline ferry services for Orkney and Shetland was to be awarded to Serco Ltd. NorthLink’s current contract to operate the services is due to expire on July 5″ http://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/default.aspx.locid-00gnew3eu.Lang-EN.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Independence? Hardly independence, as NorthLink is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Macbrayne Group (i.e. the Scottish Government) and who are they currently running the service for? Oh yes, the Scottish Government! Perhaps not so much independence as nepotism?

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  5. “they’d be just as free as any other tenderer to object. This is a government tender involving public money and must be organised fairly, or the media will have a field day and the Transport Minister will have some explaining to do.”

    Do you think? Having read their responses to an “independent” investigation into the awarding of the Rathlin contract, it’s very clear that Calmac/Rathlin Ferries Ltd were unhappy at the way in which that tendering process had been operated. Yet, no legal challenge? http://www.scribd.com/doc/9618691/CalmacRFL-Addendum-Note-to-DRD-investigations-body
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/9592687/CalmacRFL-Note-to-the-DRD-investigations-body

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I hope we’re not getting into some sort of Scottish public sector giant pile of sleaze centred on inadequately defined process in tendering for large public transport contracts. It could be stretching from the megabungling of the Edinburgh tram system procurument disaster at one end of the scale to the microbungling of the Gourock – Kilcreggan – Helensburgh ferry links at the other, taking in the Gourock – Dunoon affair and the ongoing saga of Calmac routes retendering on the way. Not sure about the quality of the second Forth Road Bridge contract, but time will tell.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. I stay on Orkney and we are just sick of the mess the Government is making of our lifeline ferry service. The contract with Serco, if it lasts, is undesirable -they can only make money by cutting services and the crew’s pay and numbers and their reputation as a cutter of pay and numbers is clear from their control of NHS contracts in England. As well as the developing contract fiasco, this year we had the mess the Government made of the dry dock timetable where they went behind Orkney’s back to get Shetland council to pay extra for an extended charter of the Hebridean Isles (I think); we’ve the attempt to cut service standards by slowing down the boats and reducing services; there is the continuing saga of the alternating denial and promise of RET which, if it comes has receded to the next Parliament.

    This is heading for a grand all purpose mess.

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    • Are you sure you’re not over-egging the pudding? With two separate Northlink services (Stromness – Scrabster and Kirkwall – Aberdeen / Lerwick, the Pentland Ferries route from St Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay, and the freight ferry between Kirkwall and Aberdeen / Lerwick, to the outside observer it looks as if Orkney enjoys good lifeline ferry services.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • I agree that we do well with the service we get – the service from the Hope to Gills Bay is completely private with no subsidy nor does it count as a life line service. Our bind is not so much about the service as the secretive and underhanded behaviour of the Government – for example we don’t know about what the new contract says about ferry frequencies or times; there looks to be a cut back in the freight boats for both sets of islands; the possibility of RET for Orkney ferries- including the internal services has receded to beyond 2015.

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      • Of course they enjoy good services, just like Dunoon has a reliable service. Unless you are local to the route and use it regularly you really don’t know all the ins and outs.

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  7. Transport Scotland do not seem particularly competent at writing contracts – read yours carefully.

    In theory CalMac can take legal action, it practice I imagine it not possible because CalMac is run by the Scottish Government so people are hardly likely to try to take Court action against a decision made by their own bosses.

    There was no logic to the Dunoon Gourock route decision. A linkspan had been built a promise of vehicle ferries had been made, then all of a sudden there was a U-turn. Now with the CalMac losing Northlink it is starting to look as if there is an agenda to break up CalMac.

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  8. i think the snp agenda is get rid of calmac ,alex salmond stated yesterday the basf factory in stornoways would create 9 jobs (equal to thousands in the glasgow/edinburgh). when they give northlink and calmac away ,i fear hundreds of jobs will be lost (mostly in rural areas ).
    how will he explain that !!!!

    this isnt scaremongering it will happen .

    snp …only interested in big business ….get these clowns out

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    • It does look like they want to break up CalMac, but why is not clear. Private companies will snap up the profitable routes. The Government will be left subsidising the unprofitable routes. Everybody will lose because there will be no ability to move relief boats around during maintenance periods.

      This is exactly the position in Dunoon. The vehicle part of the old CalMac service was making a profit every year from 2002 until it ended in 2011. Now the Government has to subsidise a dismal passenger service that cannot cope with the weather and has to run a half service for four weeks each year because there are no relief boats. Meanwhile Western gain 60,000 vehicle crossings per year with no control on prices and profit.

      This seems set to spread throughout the ferry routes in Scotland – not good news.

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