The SNP are “hiding the facts from our island communities”
The Scottish Government has refused to disclose whether they have asked the European Union for an exemption to avoid tendering for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry services.
A Freedom of Information request, submitted by Labour Councillor Joe Cullinane, seeking the disclosure of communications between the Scottish Government and the European Union over the ferry tender, has been refused by the Scottish Government who claim that;
“release would be likely to significantly harm ongoing and future relations with the limited number of ferry operators in Scotland and risks putting them off tendering for lifeline ferry services in future.”
Under EU regulations ferry services could be exempt from competitive tendering as it is a lifeline service.
Councillor Cullinane now plans to appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Speaking after his FOI request was rejected, Councillor Cullinane said;
“The SNP don’t need to go down this route of tendering, they could simply ask the European Union for a ‘lifeline services’ exemption. The fact that they won’t tell us whether they have done so speaks volumes.”
“I believe in good quality public services and I will always stand up against the privatisation of those services. I am therefore bitterly disappointed that the SNP are threatening to privatise our ferries when they should instead be keeping them in public ownership. They could also be taking steps to bring our railways back into public ownership and improve bus services, first through new regulation and then by supporting public, municipal or co-operative ownership of local bus services.”
“By rejecting my FOI request on these grounds the SNP are showing that they are willing to put the interests of giant corporations like SERCO before the interests of island communities and ferry workers.”
North Coast Labour Councillor Alex Gallagher added;
“We already knew that the SNP plan to delay the announcement of the contract winner for the Cumbrae and Arran routes until after the Scottish Parliament elections. Now they will not even discuss whether they have asked the EU for an exemption”.
“It seems that the SNP are hiding the facts from or Island communities. They do not want the voters of Arran and Cumbrae to see SNP plans to privatise their ferry services until after the votes have been counted in May.”