Scottish islanders suffer disastrous summer after Nicola Sturgeon’s ferry failures

scottish islanders suffer disastrous summer after nicola sturgeon’s ferry failures

CalMac ferry scottish islands – Jane Barlow/PA

When Kate Blake decided to move to the Isle of Harris and set up an arts studio with her husband six years ago, she expected to cater for a steady flood of tourists seeking a peaceful getaway.

Instead, the Covid crisis kept visitors away from the couple’s Hebridean Design Company business for two years. And just as they were hoping for respite this summer, widespread ferry disruption described as an “island catastrophe” left the shop empty again.

“We’re holding our breath waiting for the next disaster to happen,” says Blake.

“Our takings for July were considerably down on last year when we were still under some Covid restrictions.

“Everybody has noticed that the roads are quieter, there’s a lot of cancellations for self-catering holidays. [Ferry disruption] is going to have a long-term impact. It’s been a very disappointing year.

“There have been instances where people have had to sleep in cars as they couldn’t get off the island.”

The couple are far from alone. Repeated ferry cancellations in the Western Isles have been so bad that locals say a coach holiday company has cancelled 18 weeks of overnight bookings and tours throughout the area, leaving hotel owners tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

As the chaos grows, anger is building about the state of the creaking vessels operated by ferry company CalMac, and the state-owned company’s ultimate political masters – Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

Ms Sturgeon has been accused of abandoning Scotland’s islanders “on a catastrophic scale” following reports that some shops were having to ration essential items such as milk and bread, although Transport Scotland and CalMac have insisted that any claims linking disruption to food shortages is wrong.

scottish islanders suffer disastrous summer after nicola sturgeon’s ferry failures

Nicola Sturgeon scotland islands ferries food rationing calmac – Jane Barlow /PA

Willie Rennie, the former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says he fears younger people living on the islands will start to question whether they really want to stay there if ferry issues go on for much longer.

“You have cataclysmic impacts unless the government steps in,” he says.

“If this was a major transport problem in the Central Belt, I bet you there would be a recall of parliament. Because it’s tucked away up in the west coast, far from the Central Belt, it gets less of a priority. That needs to change.

“This is the sharp end of this crisis. We need to hold the government back to answer and come out with a worked out plan.”

CalMac is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer and operates a fleet of 34 ferries, some more than four decades old.

The company is waiting for the delivery of two new ferries from the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Glasgow – also nationalised – that are expected to come into service several years late and tens of millions of pounds over budget.

Earlier this summer, CalMac had to shut down two routes between Uig on Skye, Lochmaddy on North Uist and Tarbert on Harris owing to a safety issue on one of its oldest boats that sparked widespread concerns about underinvestment in the ferry network.

Patience is waning fast, with locals eager to raise awareness of the impact cancellations can have on their communities during the key summer tourist season. Hope Blamire, an artist on the Isle of Harris, has urged tourists not to “give up” on the island in a social media post warning the public that the “people of Harris are in a critical situation” as a result of the travel chaos.

In her post, shared by thousands of people, she said families with young children had been sitting in their cars for up to ten hours hoping to secure a place on a 10.30pm ferry that day, while other residents had missed key medical appointments. “For five days, the daughter of a gravely ill man has been unable to reach Harris to see her father,” Blamire said.

scottish islanders suffer disastrous summer after nicola sturgeon’s ferry failures

Caledonian Macbrayne ferry in the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow – Jane Barlow /PA

Another homeowner added that people living on the mainland seem unaware of the impact ferry cancellations can have on small communities.

“The tourist season is short here anyway. This year I don’t know how some will survive,” she said.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman, argues that travel disruption has been a long time coming and warnings from islanders have gone ignored.

“People in the island communities throughout Scotland have been warning the SNP and the Greens for years that this type of thing could happen, and funnily enough it has done,” he says.

“For island communities this is the most important time of the year. There are so many people who rely on a good summer season to make the money that sees them through the winter. If visitors have a bad experience this year, they’re not going to come back next year. This damage could take a decade to undo.”

CalMac’s managing director Robbie Drummond has already said that what is really needed is a long-term investment program in the ferry network, adding last week in an interview with the BBC that he wanted to encourage people to see the “brilliant scenery” of the Western Isles.

Drummond said: “A long-term strategy to replace vessels and improve port infrastructure would improve the capacity we can offer to meet demand and increase resilience.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said that while the problems have been regrettable, CalMac has operated a “number of additional sailings to help transport essential supplies during the disruption”.

He said: “In situations like this, they prioritised food supplies and confirmed that nothing was left on the mainland. Any shortages may have been down to supermarket supply chain issues”.

Blake and other small business owners are left desperately hoping for relief. After a difficult three years, they cannot afford for disruption to go on for much longer.

“This is such a magical place. Please support the islands in any way you can,” Blamire wrote in her post last week. “Keep planning your trips. Don’t give up. That warm Hebridean welcome will be waiting for you.”

Sign up to the Front Page newsletter for free: Your essential guide to the day’s agenda from The Telegraph – direct to your inbox seven days a week.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Don’t be turkeys, Tories – stick with Liz Truss

When Liz Truss was crowned Tory leader just 26 days ago, the annual party conference was meant to be a victory parade. But instead of burnishing her credentials with the ... Read more »

Potential blow for Man Utd as target now convinced he's moving elsewhere; Reds had made contact

Ruben Neves, Wolves, Molineux, Premier League Manchester United are reportedly set to miss out on signing Wolves star Ruben Neves next summer, with Barcelona now looking like his most likely ... Read more »

Chainsaw sales soar as Brits buy 35,000 woodburners in three months to keep themselves warm during the energy crisis

Retail giant Toolstation revealed that sales have rocketed by a third recentlyThe news comes as people have been finding cheaper ways to heat their homesExperts warn the rise in woodburning could lead to higher pollution levels Read more »

Investment zone a massive opportunity for remarkable improvements for Plymouth

CLLR RICHARD BINGLEY IS THE LEADER OF PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL From my perspective, it was great news last week when our Ocean City was announced within the first wave of ... Read more »

Good news for pensioners as annuities soar by nearly 40% - ‘surrogate state pension'

It has been a difficult time recently for those looking to plan their retirement and achieve later life goals. However, there is a silver lining amongst the financial clouds in ... Read more »

Des Lynam blasts the BBC's decision to axe the classified football results on Radio 5 Live, calling it a ‘mistake’

The corporation has faced criticism since it stopped reading out the results BBC bosses axed it in place of a build-up to 5.30pm Premier League gamesLynam criticised: ‘it’s part of the heritage of the programme and the sport' Read more »

London Underground: Bakerloo line extension 'should be approved with £3bn budget'

South London council leaders have called on the government to start digging tunnels for the proposed Bakerloo line extension. Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, and Southwark Council leader Kieron Williams, ... Read more »

Eels star Shaun Lane vows to win premiership ring for his mate Kurt Drysdale who suffered a CATASTROPHIC spinal injury in rugby league tackle gone wrong

Kurt Drysdale injured his spine when playing footy for Cabramatta back in 2015 He is unlikely to ever walk again, grew up best mates with Eels star Shaun Lane Lane is determined to beat Panthers so Drysdale can wear his premiership ring Read more »

Cannabis is just as harmful as cocaine and crack and should be classified as a Class A drug, police chiefs say

Police chiefs say cannabis is as harmful as cocaine and should be made Class ATory police and crime commissioners to demand it be put on a par with crackChange would see penalties for possession increase from five to seven yearsMaximum penalty for supplying cannabis would be a life jail sentence Read more »

Experts grow trees resistant to Dutch elm disease as part of plans to repopulate the countryside after 100million were wiped out by killer fungus

100 million elms were wiped out in the 1960s and 1970s by Dutch elm diseaseThe killer fungus, spread by beetles changed the UK's countryside landscape Scientists and landowners from the across the UK, Netherlands and Spain gathered at Kew Gardens in June to devise a strategy for the elm comeback Read more »

How to dry clothes indoors this winter without a dryer: 10 expert tips and tricks

null Knowing how to dry clothes indoors is all the more important during the colder months as laundry can quickly become damp if it’s left for too long in cool ... Read more »

81,000 carers could receive an extra £245 payment before Christmas - are you eligible?

Thousands of Carer’s Allowance Supplement payments were made in June and the next one is due in December. This year’s supplement payments are worth £245.70 each and the latest figures ... Read more »

Martin Lewis issues new warning as benefit payments boost could be scrapped

Martin Lewis has expressed concern as ministers refuse to confirm whether or not they’ll raise benefits to match inflation Martin Lewis has said he is “very concerned” after ministers refused ... Read more »

Inside the Aussie celebrity 'Burn Book': Anonymous TV host leaks list of the most difficult stars to deal with behind the scenes

A Reddit ‘ask me anything’ thread has become the talk of the celebrity scene, after an anonymous former TV presenter spilled the beans on the best and worst stars he ... Read more »

Bindi Irwin and her husband Chandler Powell share sweet footage of daughter Grace 'doing some maintenance' at Australia Zoo

Bindi Irwin and her husband Chandler Powell have shared an adorable video of their daughter Grace Warrior ‘working’ at Australia Zoo. The 24-year-old wildlife conservationist, who is the daughter of ... Read more »

Video: Hurricane Ian transformed a laid-back paradise island into a rubble-strewn ghost town: Survivors of tight-knit beachfront community, including famed TV storm chaser, were ferried to safety

Read more »

Prisoners in Scotland are given 660 games consoles in a £100,000 cost dubbed an 'insult to victims'

Inmates of Scottish jails have been bought games consoles, data request revealsMore than 660 consoles have been bought for criminals for more than £100,000Prison bosses say cash is 'directly' from prisoners - via taxpayer-funded 'wages'  Tory community safety spokesman Russell Findlay called it 'an insult to victims'  Read more »

Gabriel Jesus is in the ‘right place’ to book place in Brazil’s World Cup squad, says Mikel Arteta

jesus.jpg Mikel Arteta says Gabriel Jesus knows he is in “the right place” to force his way into Brazil’s World Cup squad and believes Arsenal will see the benefit of ... Read more »

Ex-private school girls start a TikTok trend revealing the 'heinous' strict rules they had to follow with jewellery banned, skirt lengths measured and detentions for not wearing their blazers

Former private school girls have opened up on their experience at their school Claire Champion, 22, racked up more than half a million views on her videoIn it, she explained some of the bizarre uniform rules the pupils had to follow Read more »

Granit Xhaka's 'niche' role explained ahead of North London Derby amid Mikel Arteta decision

Granit Xhaka of Arsenal applauds the Arsenal fans after the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Arsenal FC at Brentford Community Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Brentford, United ... Read more »

Political leaders and actors among those set to take part in Irish unity rally

Cold Feet star Jimmy Nesbitt will deliver the keynote address at the Ireland’s Future event in Dublin. Read more »

Teenager jumped and stamped on a defenceless man’s head in violent attack

Jamie Knowles’ previous convictions include robbery, affray, and possession of a knife A teenager jumped and stamped on a defenceless man’s head while leaving his wife lying on the floor ... Read more »

Woman assaulted while walking her dog near River Severn

Police want to speak to this man A woman was hurt after she was assaulted while walking her dog near the River Severn. The victim was on a river path ... Read more »

Brother of NRL star who swindled $5,000 in flood relief payments and bragged about having 'the gift of the gab' learns his fate after he was caught

Drew Reynolds fined $5000 for fraudulent flood disaster relief payments Reynolds is the brother of ex-NRL star and state of origin player Josh Reynolds He made five fraudulent Centrelink claims impersonating friends and family  Reynolds co-conspirators Aaron and William Sowter were also sentenced Read more »

UPenn medical school professor says new 'anti-racism' policies are 'lowering standards and corrupting medicine' because they focus on 'skin color' and not the 'best and brightest'

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, 78, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school, says a 'focus on diversity' is detrimental to medical educationGoldfarb also works as chairman for Do No Harm, an organization that works to 'remove critical race theory' and 'Defund the Police' ideology in health careThe American Medical Association said in 2020 that systemic racism was to blame for disparities between white and black patientsGoldfarb claims the push for diversity is excluding white and Asian students from attending medical school  Read more »

Masked Dancer thrown into chaos as star ‘quits after horrific backstage fall leaves them injured’

One contestant on the Masked Dancer is set to bow out early after injuring their ankle in a backstage fall. Viewers will see the drama unfold during the latest episode ... Read more »

Brazil election: Who is Lula, Brazil’s ‘most popular president’ and could he beat Bolsonaro?

Twenty years on from his first presidential victory, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could be just days away from one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent political history. The ... Read more »

Police install sophisticated license plate scanning cameras near Meghan and Harry's $14 million Montecito mansion to catch 'sophisticated gangs of thieves' targeting celebrity neighborhood

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's celebrity studded neighborhood, Montecito, has seen an uptick in crimeThe couple have been subject to six secutity breaches in their US home prior to July over a 14 month periodSanta Barbara Sheriff's Department is installing six license plate recognition cameras around star studded MontecitoThe cameras are hoped to also assist in missing person searches, active warrants, stolen vehicles, and other investigations during their year long trial The cameras are said to identify vehicles make, model, color and even recognize if vehicles have dents or damage The devices will not be used for facial recognition or traffic enforcement and can't identify individual peopleLaw enforcement will have 30 days to look through data collected, after which the information is deleted Read more »

Topsham incident: Woman in water sparks police helicopter drama

A file image of an NPAS police helicopter Emergency services were scrambled to Topsham following reports of someone in the water. Police, a police helicopter, coastguards, paramedics and the fire ... Read more »

Tragedy as woman found dead in Cleethorpes

A woman’s body has been discovered in a property on Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes A woman’s body has been found in a house in Cleethorpes after Humberside Police answered a call ... Read more »

Cristiano Ronaldo set to start Manchester derby amid doubts over two Man Utd stars

Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled to get into the Manchester United team (Picture: Getty Images) Cristiano Ronaldo may be handed a rare start against Manchester City with injury doubts in attack ... Read more »

Irish jockey suffers horrific fall after being pushed off horse by rival

Ryan was sent crashing down to the ground dangerously Irish jockey Rossa Ryan was shoved off his horse while riding at Saint-Cloud in France on Friday afternoon. The Galway native ... Read more »

Peter FitzSimons to step down as face of Australia's republic push just weeks after Queen Elizabeth's death put the issue back on the agenda

Peter FitzSimons will step down as chair of Australian Republican Movement Former international rugby player revealed decision to colleagues in JuneAnnouncement comes as push for republic gains momentum after Queen died  Read more »

Navy asked to hide warship from Trump because it was named after John McCain, emails show

USS John McCain – Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images Donald Trump’s White House asked the US Navy to hide a warship named after John McCain, decorated war hero and arch Republican critic ... Read more »

Video: Erik ten Hag insists he '100 per cent' made the right choice by taking the Manchester United job... after Sunday's derby rival Pep Guardiola previously tipped him as his Man City successor

Read more »

Leeds United injury list and return dates as Whites feel benefit of pre-Aston Villa break

Rodrigo Moreno Leeds United will be hosting Aston Villa this weekend at Elland Road but both sides will have key players carrying a few knocks and bumps. The month-long gap ... Read more »

Here comes the 40-year mortgage: Middle-class families turn to ultra-long mortgage deals to lower their monthly repayments

There are fears the Bank of England may raise interest to six per cent next year Some borrowers could be in debt well into their retirement with 40-year loans  Experts say middle-class families are used to excess money but now cut back  But others say trends have been between 30 and 40 years before this week  Read more »

Petrol and diesel drivers could pay more car tax with new 'pay-as-you-drive' scheme

The Campaign for Better Transport surveyed 3,000 adults from across the UK and found that 49 percent of respondents support the idea of road pricing. Only 18 percent opposed it, ... Read more »

Britain braces for transport mayhem today with the biggest rail strikes in decades meaning thousands will miss the start of the London Marathon but union vows it 'won't blink' over their demands

The rail strike is the biggest so far this year following a summer of travel chaosMillions of Brits will be affected, with no trains at all in many parts of the countryFour trade unions are demanding more pay for their workers from rail operators  Read more »
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network