Scottish Lib Dem candidate for Shetland Beatrice Wishart has today called on the SNP to spend the money that should have already been used to introduce RET on northern isles routes to improve Shetland's ferry service.
Earlier this month, Ms Wishart wrote to Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse seeking clarity over the timetable for awarding a new contract for the external ferry service as well as other issues raised by island residents such as the failure to deliver RET on time and the exclusion of cabins from the long overdue programme.
Officials for Mr Wheelhouse have now responded, pinning the blame for the delay on court proceedings which were dismissed earlier this month. On the issue of cabin fares the minister's team would only say that fare reductions "will be considered in the longer term". This comes just a day after the Transport Minister said that he would be open to discussing proposals for reduced cabin costs with whoever wins the by-election.
Ms Wishart said:
“The SNP are sending mixed messages on ferry funding once again. The Transport minister says one thing and the Islands minister says another. Neither is prepared to put their money where their mouth is and properly fund our ferries.
"For ten years the Western Isles has benefited from cheaper fares but passengers on the Northern Isles routes still don't know when they can expect the same treatment.
"Pinning the blame on Pentland ferries is a cheap excuse for ministers' lack of action. The court case has been dismissed and yet we are still seeing no progress. At a minimum the SNP should commit to spending the money that should have been used to deliver RET to improve our ferry services right now.
"As your next MSP I will be battering at the minister's door demanding our voices are heard."