Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has today called on the government to offer taxpayers an explanation for “pouring public money down the drain” on the Ferguson ferry contract. This comes after new documents revealed the Scottish Government chose the most expensive of six shipyards tendering for the contract to build two new ferries in 2015 and paid well over its initial valuations when selecting Ferguson Marine as the successful company.
A partially redacted letter from Transport Scotland to the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Investment and Cities, written in August 2015, reveals six shipyards tendered for the contract and that Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) was the highest priced bidder.
Transport Scotland’s analysis sets out that the £96m agreed for the contract was higher than both the £80m original contract estimate and the revised estimate of £90m, which was included in CMAL’s three-year Corporate Plan.
It also highlights the possibility of legal challenge from other unsuccessful applicants. It notes that CMAL was confident it could defend those but then states “that said, the relationship between Scottish Ministers and Ferguson’s owner is well known”.
Mike Rumbles said:
“The Scottish Government made extremely poor decisions, opting for a company that it was known to be cosy with, that was way out of price range.
“What’s more Ferguson Marine proved unable to deliver the work as promised. The result is almost £100m of taxpayers money has been poured down the drain and the SNP are hopeful we’ll look the other way as they essentially start from scratch.
“It’s also extremely worrying that Transport Scotland felt it necessary to highlight the close relationship between the SNP and the company which ultimately secured this huge government contract.
“This entire process has been marred by a series of ill-thought through decisions. It’s an outrageous mess. The boats will arrive years late and the public are left paying for yet more mistakes. This government owes taxpayers an explanation.”