MP demands phone call transcript
IAN BLACKFORD, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, has called for a transcript of a phone conversation between himself and CalMac’s managing director as the row over the MV Coruisk continues, writes Monica Gibson.
Mr Blackford said he had made a formal request to MD Martin Dorchester to release details of their phone call on June 1, during which Mr Blackford claims to have been told the MV Coruisk would be redeployed to its original Mallaig-Armadale route.
Five days after the call, CalMac released a statement saying no further changes would be made to the timetable. Following the report in The
Oban Times, an emergency meeting was arranged by Mr Blackford at which he asked whether Mr Dorchester’s phone calls are recorded.
Mr Blackford said: ‘The answer to my questions was ‘yes’. I have now put my request in writing. I have yet to receive any further information but I am prepared to submit a Freedom of Information request.’
The meeting last Wednesday was attended by Kate Forbes MSP, transport minister Humza Yousaf, Transport Scotland officials and management of CalMac, including Mr Dorchester. Mr Blackford said the meeting gave him the opportunity to convey to CalMac the anger felt by his constituents following the apparent U-turn.
He said: ‘An admission that did come out of the meeting was that the decision not to redeploy the Coruisk was taken solely by Caledonian MacBrayne. Neither Transport Scotland nor the Scottish Government make operational decisions for the company.’ When contacted by The Oban
Times, a spokesman said CalMac does not have a policy of recording telephone calls, so no transcript of the conversation between Mr Blackford and Mr Dorchester exists that they know of.
He added: ‘ In light of the positive evidence of how the route is performing and in consultation with Transport Scotland, we believe the current arrangements are the best available to meet the many differing demands on our services within the resources we have.
‘The route continues to carry more passengers to Skye via Armadale than it has ever done, with passenger levels up 10 per cent and cars up 20 per cent on the same period last year. Completed sailings have increased by 25 per cent this year.’