MP demands phone call tran­script

The Oban Times - - The Oban Times & West Highland Times -

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.’

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