Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘Worst in living memory’: Western Isles residents say CalMac ferry delays are risking jobs

Donald Maclean, manager at Barratlantic. Picture by Murdo Maclean.
Donald Maclean, manager at Barratlantic. Picture by Murdo Maclean.

Western Isles residents are calling for more use of weather windows to get goods on and off islands.

Calling the current timetable cancellations the “worst in living memory”, Barra’s biggest employer Barratlantic, run by Donald Joseph MacLean, said if things continue there may be a threat to jobs.

The issue for islanders is the ferry from Oban brings everything to the island. Cancellations on the route mean that food waiting to come to the island can be wasted, leaving islanders without supplies.

It can cause difficulties when it comes to getting medicine and other essential items to the community.

Fish can be left to rot if the ferry does not run

But it also means that goods from the islands, including high value fish products are left to rot on the island, as they cannot get to markets in the UK and Europe in time.

While islanders understand there is a safety issue if a ship’s master says a vessel cannot operate, they say the problem is compounded as there is less resilience on the route.

Castlebay in Barra.

The ferries that serve the island are described by islanders as “old”, and two new vessels due to provide some slack on the system have never arrived. The new vessels were meant to be launched in 2018.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday morning, Mr MacLean said: “We rely 100 % on the ferry services, we are the biggest employers on the island, if the ferry decides not to go then it causes us huge problems.

“It is the worst I have known it. The worst in living memory.

“CalMac need to look at the weather window and make best use of them. There has to be huge changes, and it needs to happen as soon as possible.

“If the ferry decides it is not going to come for a week, then people are without urgent supplies.”

Western Isles Council has previously hit out at CalMac over “decimated” ferry services.

Weather windows

CalMac ferries are a vital mode of transport for many island communities

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: “We will always use weather windows whenever possible to operate untimetabled services.

“During the recent periods of extremely poor weather, we took advantage of these opportunities so that essential services such as food deliveries could get to the islands and passengers could complete their journeys.

“Our services are completely stretched and unfortunately, we do not have any spare vessels we can use during times of technical issues.

“We work closely with CMAL and Transport Scotland as they look to source more tonnage, and we look forward to welcoming new vessel MV Loch Frisa to the network this year.

“We understand how much our customers rely on lifeline ferry services, and our utmost priority is getting ferries working as they should be at what is a really difficult time for our communities.”

 

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]