Hmm, don’t you mean “no research on our …

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

Hmm, don’t you mean “no research on our part”, but instead a classic case of jumping to a false conclusion?

Recent comments by Alex McKay

  • A83 Latest – closure [updating regularly]
    NCH. Your selective memory is at work again. You’d have a lot more credibility here if you didn’t filter the facts through your prejudices. Following the 1968 storm, the UK government gave the affected areas an interest-free loan of half a billion pounds. That’s the equivalent of about £8 billion today.
  • A83 Latest – closure [updating regularly]
    Yes, there are about 200 sheep, but the 2012 vTransport Scotland report: “A83 Rest and be Thankful: Ecological and Related Landslide Mitigation Options” states: “It thus appears that increasing the number of livestock, and the associated grazing pressure, on the hillside is unlikely to improve either drainage or
    stability.” They also mention overgrazing contributing to a landslide near Bridge of Orchy and possible adverse effects of paths created by livestock and deer on drainage.
  • A83 Latest – closure [updating regularly]
    Lots of people seem to think that planting trees is the answer, but the 2012 Transport Scotland report: “A83 Rest and be Thankful: Ecological and Related Landslide Mitigation Options” made it clear that both the steepness of the slope and the height above sea level would be major problems: “Establishment of the vegetation up to the 450m contour such that a significant contribution to stability is made is likely to take at least 15 years with 30 years being more likely where climatic conditions are most severe.”
  • A83 Latest – closure [updating regularly]
    Rona, please do tell us the last time there were trees on the slopes above Rest and be Thankful. I think you will find it was hundreds of years ago, if ever. The British Geological Society has (or had) a page on its website describing the hillside as a quite thin layer of rocks and soil overlying a steep slope of bedrock. Planting trees might help bind some of the soil together but the slippages are caused by water between the soil and the bedrock causing the former to slide downhill over the latter. In the 20+ years it might take for the trees to grow large enough to begin to absorb some of the water, though they won’t for water from much higher up the hillside, the landslips would include rocks, soil and trees.
  • SNP considering coalition in Argyll and Bute
    So what was this “bit controversial” question, TTT? Why not share it with us?

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19 Responses to Hmm, don’t you mean “no research on our …

  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”
    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.

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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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  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

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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? 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

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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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