THERE IS HUGE OPPORTUNITY WHY ARE WE BLIND TO IT?

I was sent this short video by a gentleman who created a FOI enquiry which he sent to the Scottish Government trying to find out why Dr Ballantyne never received any reply to the letter he sent to the Scottish Government in 2021 warning them about the ferry situation.

After a mix up and a mistake in procedures for which the Government apologised the official position is that the Scottish Government never received the letter. Given that this website published the letter in full in March this year and that this set off widespread media interest in the ferry debacle it seems remarkably convenient for the Scottish Government in a reply dated 23rd June 2022 to state that they have no record of receipt.

In those intervening months between March and the end of June Dr Ballantyne was quoted in virtually every news outlet not just in Scotland but in the UK discussing the content of the letter. In many cases the SG is recorded making comment in response to this. Now I know this blog is read widely in Holyrood and I am certain that ministers, Msp’s and civil servants read the National media so I find it hard to believe that none of them made any attempt to track down the letter that kicked this all off, particularly given the high level of media interest. It has been available on this blog, in full, ever since publication. Is this believable that nobody knew the content? Could nobody have contacted Dr Ballantyne and asked for a copy? You would have thought given that ministers, including the FM were being interviewed and having to comment that somebody could have made an attempt to get a copy.

For the benefit of the Scottish Government I detail below Dr Ballantyne’s original letter as published on this site back in March 2022.

Kate Forbes MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Finance

Dear Cabinet Secretary

The Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh

EH99 1SP

25th February 2021

I wrote to your predecessor Derek Mackay MSP on 11 January to offer the services of Sea Transport Solutions in resolving the requirement for the vessels 801 and 802 currently partially built at Ferguson’s yard at Port Glasgow and in enabling the construction of modern efficient ferries to replace the aging and inefficient CMAL fleet operated byCaledonian Macbrayne.

We at Sea Transport Solutions have been following recent hearings of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee and are astonished at this decision bearing in mind the intrinsic unsuitability of these vessels for the services to which they are intended, the significant additional cost of bringing them into service and their anticipated extremely high operating costs thereafter. As they are unable to berth at existing terminals, 802 for example will I understand require an estimated £60 million in terminal investment which brings the additional cost of bringing this vessel into service to well in excess of £100 million, leaving aside the funds already spent and effectively lost. We can design and build ferries in a UK yard appropriate to Caledonian MacBrayne’s requirements to operate to existing terminals for less than a quarter of that sum while at least halving the operating cost per unit. There is no reason why such vessels could not be built on a production basis at Fergusons assuming efficient management.

Transport Scotland’s Finance, Infrastructure and Sponsorship Manager, R Davie, mentions that decisions on vessel investment are taken in the context of the Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan (VRDP) and that should we retain an interest in any future procurement opportunities, we should contact CMAL directly.

We submitted a design to CMAL for a replacement ferry for the Arran service based on our well-tested, fuel-efficient, highly manoeuvrable and cost effective catamaran format. We were later to discover that a series of design options was presented by CMAL in which our 80 car, 762 passenger design was quoted as having a deadweight (i.e. payload) of 200t and a capacity for only four trucks. The actual deadweight of the vessel is >440t which is more than enough to cater for any load recorded as being carried on the route to date or indeed anticipated in future.

It was also suggested by CMAL that our catamaran design would not fit existing terminals (untrue) and that their sea-keeping would be inferior (also untrue). Our smaller Pentalina, operated by Pentland Ferries, which incidentally frequently carried nine fully laden trailers, has proven to be an excellent sea boat, regularly sailing in conditions that keep NorthLink’s!Hamnavoe stormbound in port. Hamnavoe is of a design not dissimilar to 801 and 802 and incidentally emits some four times the CO2 per crossing as Pentalina and at some three times the operating cost.

Was the misquoting of deadweight a genuine mistake? If so an extremely serious one that it seems led to the commissioning of 801. Or was this a deliberate attempt to mislead? If so, an even more serious matter. The link is

:

https://issuu.com/idmorrison/docs/brodick_-public_meeting- _3rd_december_2012?viewMode=singlePage&fbclid=IwAR0pUDIY86s161oNI0I7DkX8ovJkQoF4u_Cg PwFlSmNOyoKSYea7QIpErQs

As a second example, CMAL’s three small 23 car hybrid diesel/battery electric ferries are often quoted as examples of environmental good practice. In fact, in terms of litres of diesel consumed per car space per hour at between 3.89 and 4.13, they compare badly with Western Ferries efficient conventional diesel 40 car ferries quoted consumption at 1.83 litres per hour per car space and yet Western Ferries vessels at almost twice the capacity cost one third the build cost of the CMAL hybrids. Our 35 car design would compare at least as favourably in terms of cost and environmental credentials. We actually own and operate ferries and our own terminals so we practice what we preach.

I suggest that CMAL are not well placed at present to deal with the on-going matter of replacing the current Clyde and Hebrides fleet. As CMAL do not own all the terminals to which CalMac operates. I see no reason why they need own all the ships. 

 One or more alternative ship owning entities could have the potential to provide a   more cost effective ship leasing arrangement than that provided by CMAL and could bring new tonnage on stream both faster and for less capital and operating cost. We at Sea Transport Solutions would be more than happy to work in partnership to offer such a service and in so doing effect a step-change in productivity so as to markedly improve frequency and capacity of Clyde and Hebrides ferry services while significantly reducing the annual cost to the Scottish exchequer. The present system is a disgrace, likely to pull your Government down.

Our group has designed and enabled the building of over 100 state of the art ferries and other vessels now operating in some forty seven administrations worldwide. We are currently fulfilling a contract for twenty catamaran ferries for the Philippines. While we have found an enthusiastic welcome for our input in these administrations, I find it hard to understand why we have experienced thus far such a negative response in my native Scotland.

As a proud Scot, it distresses me that Scotland’s maritime capability has been reduced to such a shadow of its former standing. I have offered to make a contribution to reinstating Scotland as a world class ship designing, building and operating nation and would be happy to meet with you and such others as may be appropriate to discuss how this might be achieved.

Finally I wish you well in your new ministerial duties and if I may suggest, in the light of being prudent to revisit your predecessor’s decision to continue with 801 and 802, but develop instead a future strategy for the yard in a competitive market, in which, if desired, Sea Transport Solutions could provide the design competence and experience.

You can phone me directly on xxxx xxxx xxxx

Yours faithfully

Dr Stuart Ballantyne

Chairman

SO WHAT INFORMATION WAS THE FOI REQUESTING?

Further to your email of 26 May 2022 I have now completed my review of our failure to respond to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for any and all information, regarding the Scottish Government’s receipt and processing of the Letter (this refers to a letter dated 25th February, 2021, regarding replacement of the ageing and inefficient CMAL ferry fleet operated by CALMAC, from Dr Stuart Ballantyne, Chairman, Sea Transport Solutions (“Sender”), to Ms Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Scottish Government (“Recipient”); (hereinafter described as “Letter”)), including any discussion of or meetings pertaining to it, within the Scottish Government and between the Scottish Government, its officers, officials and advisors and any other parties.
1) Did the Recipient receive the Letter?
2) Provide any and all information on action taken upon receipt of the Letter, including, inter-alia;
a) Was the Letter read by the Recipient or any of her officials or advisors;
b) To whom, within and outwith the government, was a copy of the Letter sent by the Recipient, or her office and or others and with what instructions, requests or annotations, if any; and
c) Was the Letter or any part of its content discussed in any meetings within the Scottish Government including government agencies such as Transport Scotland and, if so, provide records of such discussions and any outcome or conclusions regarding whether and or how to respond to the Letter.
3) Provide any and all information on processing of the Letter by Transport Scotland, including, inter- alia; b) Was the Letter or any part of its content discussed in any meetings within Transport Scotland or between Transport Scotland and any other party and, if so, provide records of the same. c) Did Transport Scotland prepare any response to or commentary, including internal notes or memoranda, on the Letter or any part of its contents and, if so, provide a copy of the same.
4) Did the government decide not to respond to the Letter and, if so, what reason, if any, was recorded

The FOI response then went on to state

You stated that 3 a) of your original request (Who in Transport Scotland received a copy of the Letter) did not form part of your request as you had subsequently received a response under a separate request. Therefore, I have not considered it here.
In accordance with section 21(4) of FOISA, I have also reached a decision on your request.
I apologise for our lack of response to your request. The request was withdrawn after being mistakenly identified as being a duplicate of another request that you had submitted. We should not have withdrawn the request, and steps have been taken to ensure that this does not happen again in the future.
As per our response to your request 2202002092676, no letter was received by Scottish Government officials or advisers. The Scottish Government do not hold a copy of the letter, therefore we do not hold any of the information that you have requested.
This is a formal notice under section 17 of FOISA that the Scottish Government do not hold the information that you have requested.

MY COMMENTS

So there you have it. Nobody in the Scottish Government can take responsibility because the postal service is responsible. Now in fairness, that may be the case but if so Dr Ballantyne is an awful unlucky man because other information about his alternative proposals did get through to Scotland but when they were being ”considered” someone ( identity unknown) mistakenly supplied figures in error that were wrong and which allowed his proposals to be discounted from the final choices being made. More ”bad” luck?

The one thing this story confirms is that when it comes to ferries trying to get to the bottom of who is responsible requires a very wide net to which it now appears Royal Mail now needs added.

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland.

BEAT THE CENSORS

Sadly some websites that claim to be pro Indy have turned out to be only Pro SNP sites and have sought to ban any websites that dare to question SNP Policy or tactics. They seek to avoid the public being aware that alternatives to waiting for Westminster to “grant” Scotland a Section 30 to hold a referendum exist. Issues like the flawed franchise, the Claim of Right route, the work of the SSRG and Salvo fill them with dread. As this blog promotes all routes, including alternatives I am banned from these sites and am therefore very grateful to my readers, who knowing about these efforts to ban and suppress go out of their way to subscribe and to share my articles far and wide. It is a good thing that attempts to restrict free speech and censor are defeated in this way.

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45 thoughts on “THERE IS HUGE OPPORTUNITY WHY ARE WE BLIND TO IT?

  1. The Scottish Government can only consider “Nicola Approved” material. Without her blessing no source can be used, quoted or considered.
    Such unapproved documentation or advice risks the contradiction of the Sturgeon Truth.
    You need only look to the GRA “evidence” at Holyrood for example.

    1984 George Orwell – “urging individuals to find themselves in the party. The last is ignorance is strength, which means that the Party knows best.”

    Liked by 10 people

    1. This is what we have to confront – independence will never be one while the future on offer is this dysfunctional, incompetent, authoritarian identity politics.

      Liked by 9 people

  2. That article on Wings actually gave me a right good laugh which is sorely needed these days.

    T3 stands for “more Trans Than Thou”.

    Some of the examples have to be read to be believed. I made one up but can you guess which one?

    e.g. Harper left a trans Facebook group because there were a lot of truscum amongst its members.

    e.g. Peyton told nir doctor that ne is transqueer and would prefer ne/nem/nir pronouns.

    e.g. Sozzenerle decided one of the ducks at the pond was being overly aggressive when going for the bread and wondered if by lending them some of their Japanese Anime it might help the duck to find their true self.

    e.g. Kendahl took a class on QASL in order to better communicate with nir queer Deaf friends.

    e.g. Petey liked using QUILTBAG as their community identifier because they felt it was easier to pronounce and carried less emotional and political baggage than LGBTQIA+.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. LGBTQIA+? (That last character was mine).

      Does this acronym – can I still use that word? – not, by definition, include everyone on the planet?

      If so, I belong to the “+” subset.

      Unless, of course, animals, insects and other non-human forms … but let’s not go there.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Don’t be silly diabloandco – there is no such thing as a pervert – that’s why the GRA reforms are no risk to women …

        Liked by 7 people

  3. Could the two ships, 802 and 801, not be made suitable for a ferry crossing from Rosyth to Zeebruge/Rotterdam route?

    This would then allow the production of Dr Ballantyne’s fast and efficient catamarans for the Scottish island routes without expensive harbour modifications.

    We know there is a financially viable business in that route for Scotland to export to Europe, which may/may not be exploited by DFDS soon.

    They could use Rosyth until a Scottish owned Cockenzie harbour is constructed for the longer term.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Again Marion unfortunately far too small.

        The North Sea routes are operated by some of the largest freight ferries in existence – CLDN a leading North Sea operator have just introduced two new vessels with 5000 lane metres of capacity and have two of no less than 8000 lane metres capacity on order.. Put crudely that means they could carry approximately 300 European sized semi trailers or lorries – way beyond the capacity of any of the Shetland boats.

        This is important because this capacity consideration has a role to play in the setting of rates against which any Scotland – Europe freight service will have to successfully compete.

        Liked by 7 people

  4. Common sense suggests the SG very definitely did receive this letter – they must have been aware of the press coverage and if they really did not have it they would have surely said so – they just ignored it. This is just one more example of the toxic arrogance of the nuSNP. Conflicting opinions are invalid. Jury trials get it wrong – lets get Sturgeons judges on the case. Sexual harassment is hair flicking but not groping – we will pursue those we see fit. Corroboration discussions are closed and we will not waste our time listening to a retired judge who wants to talk to us. We need not follow any process. We need not keep auditable records. If we find ourselves investigated we will redact all evidence. By taking “collective responsibility” we take no responsibility. Argue with us and the process will be the punishment.

    To SNP MSPs and memebers I would say to be silent is to be complicit. If the SNP cannot be reclaimed by its true self then it must be abandoned. This is a dystopian nightmare.

    Liked by 14 people

  5. The missing letter coincides with a period when the Scottish government gave every impression of being immersed in a deep existential crisis thus out of its collective mind. Those who wish to forgive and forget what ensued are, of course, free to do so.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Well said Marionl99.

    I have read a few comments from others saying there is still good people in the SNP and government. Not for me there isn’t. To be silent is to be complicit. Whatever the reason for it is. Be it cowardice, ignorance, stupidity, not wanting to rock the boat and lose the comfy lifestyle or just crooked the truth is they are complicit. When it all falls apart and it will eventually fall apart all those who did nothing to stop the rot should be remembered and punished just as much as those who caused it.

    Liked by 15 people

  7. Understanding why many ‘policies’ end up in a mess here in a Scotland still run and controlled by the UK and its agencies – which includes the so-called Scottish Government and whoever sits in Holyrood – we need to consider how and who actually runs our institutions and the values they hold to, and why Scots committed to improving Scotland are often excluded and prevented from making the key decisions.

    https://yoursforscotlandcom.wordpress.com/2021/08/01/the-determinants-of-independence-institutions/

    Liked by 9 people

    1. “Scots committed to improving Scotland are often excluded and prevented from making the key decisions”

      Alf you have perfectly described the nuSNP – those Scots not committed to improving Scotland but to their own self serving agendas. The y do indeed appear to be puppets of the colonial master – right down to their pretendy indyref and attempting replace the majority of MP seats mandate with a majority of votes. We cannot watch this final betrayal – we have to find a way to unmask them.

      Liked by 10 people

    2. I agree with that Alf, but add that it’s a double whammy.

      There are all kinds of shenanigans / exclusions going on with the procurement, but once the project falters or falls apart, there’s never any fallout for those who were incompetent or made unfathomable decisions. We are remarkably tolerant and forgiving of ahem, “failures”.

      Liked by 8 people

  8. They are of course lying.

    Unfortunately these are the people we will have to (holding our noses of course) lend our support, either next year or the year after.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here are the problems I see James:
      The dystopian country that Sturgeon is trying to create will kill the soft NO vote
      The track record of nuSNP incompetence has prevented YES reaching north of 60% as it ought to be in the current circumstances
      The many redacted and “forgotten” mis steps of the nuSNP are well known to the dark state – if needed, they will be “leaked” as the referendum approaches
      Sturgeon does appear to be a unionist plant – it is entirely possible her plan is to lose an indyref or, if that is prevented, ruin the mandate of our MPs by turning it into a majority (60%+?) of voters instead of a majority of seats. Take a look at the mug shot of her meeting the Queen – that is someone meeting their mentor and hero.

      I suggest our task right now is to expose and bring down these traitors and then use the Westminster election with a majority of seats. Make no mistake: Scotland is being hog tied in “union” by the nuSNP.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. You may well be right Marion – to say that I’m less than optimistic with the “in 23 or 24” scenario would be a gross understatement!

        Liked by 5 people

      2. A majority of seats quickly became a majority of votes. How long until it’s a majority of the entire electorate? I trust New SNP as far as I can throw them but would be delighted to be wrong.

        Liked by 10 people

  9. I should feel elated at some movement on the indy front but sadly I don’t. Two days in, all that is being talked about is a referendum or the next general election.

    Any chance the SNP might discuss some specifics on why we should be independent? As member of the SNP, our branch has not been given any material or instructions to reinvigorate our members, once our strongest asset. Hopefully this is en-route to back up Nicola’s plans so we can all get going. No one wants to go door knocking and face the usual questions to which we have not been given answers. These days it is even proving difficult to get enough members to deliver leaflets when required.

    As I said previously, the entirety of the SNP October conference should be about our independence strategy and nothing else.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Alin – can I ask that the issue of substitution the historically accepted majority of Westminster seats with the almost impossible to achieve majority of voters is front and center (and is that all eligible voters? is it over 60%? Sturgeon has carefully avoided clarifying so she can be outraged when thwarted).

      I am sure of two things now:
      Sturgeon knows no indyref will be held by Holyrood
      Sturgeon has to close down our historic and democratic right to exit the union the same way that we entered it in order to appease her masters.

      This is ALL the current exercise is about: removing the possibility that Scotland can escape through a majority of independence MPs. Everything else is just noise.

      Liked by 7 people

    2. You may not control the NEC Alin but if the activists refuse to campaign en masse until this is sorted out then the power is with you – the members can hold the leadership to account. No-one campaigning means no campaign. Reject Sturgeons arrogant betrayal. Right now you are being sucker punched into making Scotland an enduring prisoner in union – catch’d fast.

      Liked by 7 people

    3. May I also ask for the proposed constitution to be highlighted and the SSRG brought in? A proper constitution would do much to reassure those of us horrified by this authoritarian SG. A poor one will kill the vote.

      Liked by 10 people

  10. If anyone is written to the UK or SG always send it by recorded delivery, it’ll be cheaper in the long run for you and for Scotland.

    Liked by 9 people

  11. My final thought on the issue of counting votes and not seats in a Westminster GE is that it is the people of Scotland who are sovereign – not Sturgeon. No-one asked us about this so no change can be made with any legitimate Scottish authority – constitutional matters are not within the remit of Holyrood. I can hope that Alba will call this out and say that they will stand on the historic right to open negotiations on a majority of seats.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. At the moment, though I might change my mind on the day, I intend to vote for Alba. I have wanted independence for Scotland since I was a teenager. I yearn for it. I’m 76 years old now and still hope to see independence for my country. But I swore that I would never vote SNP again unless sanity returned to the party.

      I don’t think that I can vote to benefit Sturgeon ever again. She has hoodwinked us time after time, and I will never forgive her for what she did to Alex Salmond. Go to wings over Scotland if you want to see what she has planned for us, whether we are independent or not.

      The woman is a traitor whichever way you look at it. She might be destroying our chances of independence by herself, or she might be working with/for the British state. Either way, she does not intend to help us achieve independence, and I will not help her to win a majority of seats again.

      Liked by 8 people

    2. All this plus the strong possibility of a franchise which will allow all and sundry a vote on Scotland’s constitution.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. First lesson to be learned is that ALL correspondence, especially if concerning FOI Act should be sent in writing by recorded/registered delivery if not also directly to Sect of State by electronic means. I would also recommend that incoming written correspondence arriving at a Dept. Office should also be recorded and given a reference number. That is sound admin practice well used by many orgs., including Civil Service.

    Liked by 9 people

  13. I think there URGENTLY needs to be a big summit for all Parties, (parties as in groups, not just political), to thrash out what the hell is going on, and if needs be, be locked in a room where they don’t come out until we have robust and bullproof YES Movement capable of surefooted and deliberate progress towards our Independence goal.

    Alyn Smith. “Absolutely not, never”. – Not good enough.
    John Swinney. “50% of the vote”. – Not good enough.
    Sturgeon. “50% of the vote”. – Not good enough.

    Just like Stuart Ballantyne is trying to do with the Ferries, “Somebody” needs to grab this situation by the scruff of the neck and sort this smouldering mess out. A YES heavyweight who can transcend Party politics, take command of a grassroots campaign and steer us towards a Constitutionally robust Plebiscite Election with absolute surefootedness.

    If that means the elected spokesperson / leader of a People’s Constitutional Assembly which doesn’t exist yet, then let us be decisive about it, and determined to get that People’s Convention set up, with every last one of us focused on making it a success. We NEED that position filled, and we need that Convention to exist.

    If consensus cannot be reached, then it’s better to find out early and “reposition” the disruptors towards the periphery of the campaign where they can grumble away without upsetting people with nobody forced to listen.

    Let’s get the YES campaign visible. Flags, bumper stickers, posters, merchandise,… We’re putting the band back together, bigger, better, and louder than it was before. This time, we win.

    I’ve said it before, have the inaugural swearing in of the Convention somewhere in the open air, preceded by a big AUOB march that’s huge, and easy for people to get to, and for the pipes and drums to resonate with gunning motorcycle engines. – A Clan gathering for Scotland’s Community of the Realm.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. It feels like they are making it up as they go along. For me the plebiscite means a simple victory at the UK general election – that’s a seats victory (under their conditions, electoral commission and FPTP voting system). If it is to be the proportion of votes, then WM needs to usher in PR.

      If it does have to be total proportion of Indy votes, then I guess it does remove the need to vote SNP- which many will be relieved about. Of course a reduced number of MPs returned at WM will have the imperial media jumping for joy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. She is devious, she has a plan, and the Unionists will agree, that only SNP votes, not all the pro Indy votes will count. That way the SNP keep their seats, people can’t vote for other pro Indy parties fearing their votes won’t count…oh and it’s a lot harder to win Independence.

        Liked by 5 people

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