Local News for Tuesday 23rd October 2018

In news that came as a surprise to many, CalMac has been named ‘Ferry Operator of the Year 2018’ at the National Transport Awards.

The award is open to ferry operators running services from ports in the UK and Ireland. Entries needed to demonstrate how they have improved services and facilities over the year. This included results that have been achieved across performance and reliability, passenger growth, and customer satisfaction.

CalMac managing director, Robbie Drummond said;

‘This is an award for all our staff in recognition that no matter what challenges we face, whether it be extreme weather conditions or vessel availability, they will always provide the best possible service for our customers,’

CalMac operates a fleet of 33 vessels across 26 routes serving island and remote mainland locations across the west coast. Last year they carried more than 5.3 million passengers, an increase of 300,000, and nearly 1.4 million vehicles.

The Western Isles SNP Group at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have expressed disappointment at the decision by Comhairle leader Cllr Roddie Mackay and his Chairs' Group to give senior officials a pay rise while frontline staff face increasing pressures.

SNP Group leader, Cllr Gordon Murray (Stornoway North) said:
‘This is so insensitive and at a time when staff and services are under threat, to reward just those on high salaries exhibits a callousness that is beyond belief.

‘If we were to reward anyone, it should be those at the frontline in delivering services who face increasing challenges and pressures. With high levels of fuel poverty and foodbanks in use in the islands, Cllr Mackay and his chairs need to revisit this decision.’

Western Isles Labour has accused the local SNP of “shameless hypocrisy” In claiming that they stand “shoulder to shoulder” with front-line workers providing council services.

Prospective candidate Alison MacCorquodale said:
‘This is the worst treatment of any local authority in Scotland and there has been not one cheep of protest from the local SNP councillors, MSP or MP. This is a very strange way of standing shoulder to shoulder with anyone other than their own political party”.

Ms MacCorquodale continued:
‘We have seen over 300 jobs go in recent years with many more under threat. Our argument is not primarily with the Comhairle but with the people who are continuing to cut their funding.

‘The SNP are decimating one of the largest employers and service providers in an area they themselves acknowledge as economically fragile.

‘Behind the smokescreen of criticising the reorganisation of senior staff and the restructuring of the Comhairle, the SNP are shedding crocodile tears for the front-line staff. They need to look in the mirror to see who is actually to blame’.