For Argyll has asked for responses to the following questions from Transport Scotland and from the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment.
‘In the hypothetical situation of any specific change being actively considered by SG in relation to the nature of the current passenger ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon or in relation to its mode of provision – eg a specific boat:
- ‘Would a STAG appraisal be necessary?
- What are the criteria for carrying out a STAG appraisal?
- In what circumstances would change to the nature or provisioning of the service on this route NOT require a STAG appraisal?
‘Mr Neil is on the record as having declared that one of the Argyll Ferries boats on this route – the MV Ali Cat – is ‘not fit for purpose’.
- We are challenging Mr Neil to define precisely the ways in which he has judged this boat to be ‘not fit for purpose’?
- We are also interested to know how, if Mr Neil believes this to be the case and can legally defend the position, he has not had the MV Ali Cat withdrawn from service?
‘Mr Neil, as a Scottish Minister, is a shareholder of Argyll Ferries, the owner of the boat in question.
‘As the Cabinet Secretary ultimately responsible for transport, how does he not have a duty of care for the safety of the travelling public to have withdrawn from service a boat he has declared to be ‘not fit for purpose’ and which is owned and operated by a company owned by the government in which he serves and of which he is himself a shareholder?
‘In what ways is Mr Neil NOT legally responsible for a situation he is attempting to distance himself from in his public criticisms of it?
‘Other Cabinet Ministers, such as Mr Russell, seem equally confused as to their roles and responsibilities in this matter, but Mr Neil is the Cabinet Secretary with specific responsibility for Transport and, as such, is directly responsible and directly accountable for it.’