Many thanks for this update. Good to see signs …

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

Many thanks for this update.
Good to see signs of independence.

newsroom also commented

  • This would make more sense – over energetic research on our part?

Recent comments by newsroom

  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    Thank you for your kind comments about the piece.
    I never know to whom comments refer – so to be clear, in what I said to defend For Argyll’s and my own very real independence of anything and anyone, I had not suggested in any way that Mr Black was a supporter of anything.
    I was – and am – concerned only at his assumption that For Argyll is different from what I know it to be.
  • Managed protest at Pacific Quay shames pro-indy campaign
    For Argyll editorialises as a matter of policy.
    With interactive media today, since any reader is free to comment [unedited] – and many do – a news platform is free to take a position and not contribute to a fraud on the public by pretending that there are two sides of equal weight on a specific issue, where this is not the case.
    Our positional judgments are made on the basis of evidence and not on the basis of preconception or bias.
    The powerful evidence for this is that we publicly supported potential independence for several years from 2007. The reasons why we have come to oppose it today are evidential and arise from serious independent researches of our own. These have shown us that the prospectus on which the country will vote on 18th September is incomplete and knowingly deceptive; that promises made cannot be fulfilled as the prospectus stands – and more are being made on a daily basis now [today's is that if you vote 'Yes', wages will go up]; and that controversial decisions planned to be taken [as on various aspects of taxation] have been suppressed until later for fear of losing votes.
    We have also become increasingly concerned at the degree and speed of implementation of a totalitarian political philosophy; and about the willingness to exert intimidation and deploy patronage to suppress criticism and resistance to this direction of travel. Ironically, this is the modus operandi indy is supposed to free us from.
    All that this indy would do is bring those instruments of manipulation even closer to home – and in the hands of a party of majority government now very experienced and skilled in using them. This is quite a frightening prospect.
    Economically and socially we can see nothing supportable arising from this prospectus or, now, from the party promoting it – so we do not support it.
    Personally, I have voted for the SNP in the past – and joined the party for several years – because it showed signs of an objective attempt actually to govern Scotland.
    I departed when it became progressively clear that principle had been discarded in favour of a obsessive will to gamble that the country will buy a false prospectus if it is bribed enough and emotionally manipulated enough.
    Personally, I prefer to hope that people will scrutinise, learn and think enough – but I do not discount disappointment on that hope.
    The methods used to conduct the campaign are below civility and simply insupportable – the bullying, the unachievable promises, the rank dishonesty, the sleight of hand statements to shore up decomposing positions.
    No one to whom honesty and straightforwardness matter could put their name to taking Scotland into an uncertain independence on the back of this prospectus and this campaign.
    I have learned to disrespect the SNP as a party – never a position I had imagined I would arrive at. Whatever the outcome in September, I will not vote for them again.
  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    On a point of fact, it is not CalMac but CMAL [Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited - also state owned] which commissioned and owns the two hybrid ferries.
    We wouldn’t have spent the money this way. It had too high a degree of the ‘green vanity project’ about it and there have been a range of unforeseen issues about which little is known but which have cost more money than originally budgeted, over and above the usual overruns.
    But the boats are here, in service, with good manoeuverability.
    CalMac does not – contractually cannot – choose the boats it uses. That does not mean that the company would or would not have preferred anything else in this instance. We have no idea of that position.
    The issue is one of the accountability of government to the public whose taxes pay for the results of decisions which are not always made on the defensible criteria, with informed perspectives and with the overt purpose in mind – on projects with no serious pressure to manage to budget. It’s ‘other people’s money’.
  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    There was a reason why MV Clyde Clipper and MV Cruiser displayed their seamanship in the very close quarters manoeuvre we reported after Clipper came out of her dock at Greenock.
    Clipper had run out of coffee and was being supplied from Cruiser.
  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    If I thought that was possible from the prospectus we’re voting on, I’d vote for it.

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19 Responses to Many thanks for this update. Good to see signs …

  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.

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  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”

    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.

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  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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    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″

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      • 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?

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    • 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.

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  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.

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      • 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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