Statement from David MacBrayne Limited on position of Archie Robertson

The following statement has been received from David MacBrayne Ltd chairman Peter Timms:

‘Archie Robertson has decided to step down from his role of Chief Executive and has left the Company with effect from Friday 24 August 2012. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Archie for his contribution to the business and wish him well for the future.’

For background detail on this matter, please see our article published yesterday: Official: David MacBrayne Group CEO ‘has not resigned’?

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21 Responses to Statement from David MacBrayne Limited on position of Archie Robertson

  1. Transport Scotland wrote a contract that permitted vessels to be used which could not operate reliably in the weather on the Firth of Clyde. CalMac then supplied vessels which met the contract but could not actually operate reliably.

    This was foolishness in the extreme. Passengers would suffer days of disruption and cancellations then choke when they saw posters claiming 100% reliability (by the contract).

    This needs to serve as a warning to all ferry users whose routes are tendered by Transport Scotland. Make sure the tender requires vessels that are actually capable of running reliably in the sea and weather conditions on your route.

    You also need to ensure that relief vessels are included to cover for normal planned servicing and for breakdowns.

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    • Transport Scotland only specified that the winning bidder would have to provide their own Class 4 boats. CalMac did not provide them – they were bought by David Macbrayne Ltd from their own retained profits accumulated over a number of years.

      Mr Robertson’s departure last week is probably more likely to do with the loss of the Northlink contract. Remember, there are ferry issues other than those just affecting Dunoon!

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      • My post was about the wider context, all routes going out to tender are at risk if Transport Scotland write the contracts.

        Transport Scotland neglected to ensure the vessels were fit to run reliably in the weather conditions on the route (Class IV certification does NOT imply a ferry service can operate reliably in the weather on the route).

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  2. The Gourock-Kilcreggan ferry has gone the same way; the tendering documents for the last tender are content-free, SPT have given no extra diligence to the process than they would the tender of a bus service. Beyond stipulating the capacity of the vessel they say nothing of note. As a consequence since April this year there is a service run by a contractor with no track record, questionable financial stability, with an unreliable vessel of dubious seakeeping ability with accomodation that makes the old corporation trams seem luxurious by comparison, and up until a month ago a backup vessel without a passenger certificate, a fact limiting it to 12 passengers or fewer.

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    • SPT? Diligence? – next time you’re in Glasgow have a good look around Buchanan bus station – decent design, good facilities, but definite signs of rather indifferent management, courtesy of SPT. The staff are decent and helpful, but if you’re inclined to use the left luggage, or get a meal, there’s a distinct whiff of Eastern Europe, or maybe of nationalised Britain about thirty years ago – and it can only be down to the culture of the senior management. And the clock outside’s been bust as long as I can remember.

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  3. Another one bites the dust.
    With a possible strike on the horizon do the people on our Islands have any say in what kind of ferry service they want.Was privatisation on the agenda before for lifeline ferry services or will it be just be a pick and mix.
    Bob Crow says they are talking with the Scottish Transport Minister about private ferry companies taking over some routes.Mull would be an obvious one,what other ones would make any money?
    How would it all work when we can,t even sort out a walkway for passengers to disembark on Mull.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • What is a “lifeline ferry service”, can you show me any formal legal definition anywhere?

      If you read the Scottish Ferry Service Review it is Transport Scotland who will decide which routes are lifeline using their own criteria that will not allow comparison between routes. In other words it will be at Transport Scotlands whim and very difficult to counter their decisions since there are no published critria.

      In addition the review completely sidesteps how ferries will be supplied – that was the fatal issue for Dunoon, and will be for others as well.

      You are correct, there will be cherrypicking. This means the state will be left with the unprofitable routes and have to subsidise them even more heavily.

      Fragmented routes will also mean a lack of relief vessels. When that happens routes will have weeks of half service every year.

      Anybody with a route that is to be tendered should be seriously worried and should learn from all the problems that came to light in Dunoon. Forewarned is Forearmed.

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        • The company, CalMac, operates its routes at a profit.

          CalMac is expecting to make a profit on the Dunoon Gourock passenger only ferry route.
          The contract is for costs plus profit.

          Companies that take over routes will cherry pick the routes where they can maximise the profit. A lot of that extra profit will come from a reduction in service. For example CalMac might be providing relief vessels (because it has a large fleet and can move vessels around), this does cost money. The new company will not have relief vessels (e.g. Argyll Ferries, even though it is owned by CalMac!) and so attracts the same subsidy but with less overhead.

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  4. That’s not what you said

    “This means the state will be left with the unprofitable routes and have to subsidise them even more heavily.”

    Go and troll somewhere else.

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  5. Ferryman- if Cal-Mac returns a profit, why oh why, are we taxpayers giving them £millions every year to run the services? I thought you had some points of discussion that might have been valid, but you are obviously flying in the clouds somewhere!

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    • Calmac makes a profit as the subsidy plus revenue is greater than the costs. However without the subsidy all routes run at a loss, as the costs exceed the revenue.

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  6. Ferryman – are these figures true or false?
    Caledonian MacBrayne runs ferry services to most of Scotland’s west-coast islands. It is wholly state owned and state run and it costs the taxpayer about £100 million a year in subsidies for running costs and another £60 million or so in annual capital costs for new boats and piers.

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  8. Peter – how can they be making a profit? Remove all the subsidies – and they are still making a profit? Don’t think so. You are saying that they are making a profit on the income from fares, which is not the same as providing and maintaining ports, buildings, ships, staff costs, insurance etc.

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