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Lib Dems to push for resignations if ferry completion deadline is missed again

The ferries have been delayed until at least next year (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The ferries have been delayed until at least next year (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Scottish Lib Dems are set to push for resignations if the timetable for the completion of two delayed and over-budget ferries is missed again.

Kate Forbes told MSPs last month that the Glen Sannox and as yet unnamed hull 802 will be delayed until at least next year – five years later than planned.

An estimate also put the cost of the final project as high as £240 million, almost two-and-a-half times higher than the original £97 million.

Both are under construction at the Government-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, which was saved from administration in 2018 when a number of problems were discovered.

Willie Rennie in Holyrood
Lib Dem economy spokesman Willie Rennie will lead the debate (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Since, the yard has come under scrutiny repeatedly in Parliament, most recently after an Audit Scotland report found that ministers went ahead with the contract despite a full refund guarantee not being on offer and concerns raised by the Government’s ferry procurement body, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (Cmal).

In a debate on Wednesday, the Scottish Lib Dems will seek to force the resignation of the responsible minister if the timetable is missed again.

“Ministers have ducked and dived, desperate to shirk responsibility for too long,” said the party’s economy spokesman, Willie Rennie.

“These delays have left islanders and communities without reliable services, critical to island life.

“In a just world, past ministers who left island communities without lifeline services and oversaw hundreds of millions in cost over-runs would hand in their resignation.

“There are no guarantees that these colossal failures will not simply be allowed to repeat themselves.

“That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that if these boats are not finished on time, the responsible minister should resign. That is the principle that we are asking parliament to back.”

The wording of the motion calls on the Scottish Parliament to agree that “if vessels 801 and 802 are not completed within the revised timescale and cost provided to Parliament on 23 March 2022, the latest in a string of revisions, then the ministers responsible deserve to finally be held to account in the form of resignations and calls on the Scottish Government to give this assurance.”

Given the co-operation agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens in Holyrood, the motion is highly unlikely to pass.

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