An open letter to the transport minister
Sir, I write on behalf of myself, the directors and business members of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce to express our continued, and very serious, concerns about the published summer timetable from CalMac.
Lochaber Chamber of Commerce is appealing for an urgent economic impact analysis to be carried out before further harm is caused to the region. There are clear indicators of the adverse affect on business revenue, business profits and jobs from the downgraded 2016 CalMac service.
Public concerns about the Mallaig-Armadale ferry service are genuine and have been repeatedly voiced. At our meeting on October 31, 2016, you personally promised that you would not allow the service to be as poor as it was in 2016 again in 2017. Yet no evidence has been produced to restore confidence over business survival and jobs. The predicted level of CalMac cancellations is highly likely to cause the same traveller anger and circumnavigation and lower income for the area as in 2016.
Douglas Ellies, ferries contract manager, advised the Chamber of Commerce that Transport Scotland would be ‘appointing a new director of community and stakeholder engagement post and a communities board to better involve communities in investment and service decisions’.
We hope this appointment is a top priority and, if an appointment has already been made, would want to know who the new director is and what his plans are to address the scandalous absence of stakeholder engagement in service decisions affecting Lochaber.
We remain positive that a workable solution can be found and will continue to press for the MV Coruisk or a vessel of similar specification to be deployed to the most iconic, and fifth most popular water crossing in Scotland. Lesley Benfield, Chief executive officer, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.