MEP Challenges Commissioner To Ferry Trip

09 February 2007
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has invited European Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot to come to Scotland and visit communities reliant on ferry transport.

Mr Smith sent the invitation following the withdrawal of V Ships from the Clyde and Hebrides Tender process and the absence of any bidders for the Gourock-Dunoon service operated by Cal Mac.

Commissioner Barrot is being invited to meet local communities, to travel on Scotland's ferry system and to meet with local authorities, officials, ferry companies and other interested parties in order to find a lasting solution to the operation of Scotland's lifeline ferry services.

Mr Smith said

"All going well it appears Cal Mac will operate the Clyde and Hebrides services and that will be a relief to many people. However settling who will run the service for the next six years is not the end of the problem.

"The current situation is that this process will be repeated every six years. It is the current Executive who decided to follow this route. There has to be a better way.

"Bringing the Commissioner to Scotland, allowing him to see the way in which communities rely on ferry services and the importance of the ferries to Scotland's west coast will put us all in a better position to ensure that we do not have to go through this drawn out and expensive process in the future.

"The Commission are always open to persuasion and I believe the best way to secure our ferry services for the future in a way that will allow them to improve and develop is to persuade the Commission that there are alternatives to the Labour and Liberal Democrat approach.

"I can see no better way to put our case than by putting the Commissioner on a ferry.

"I look forward to the Commissioner's response and hope he will be sailing Scotland's seas fairly soon."