An open letter to Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth
Mayday, Mayday, Mayday
This is the MV Community of Harris
We have been repeatedly hit by an out- of- control ferry service
We are sinking fast and need immediate assistance.
Dear Ms Gilruth,
A Mayday call is the most urgent one there can be in the maritime world. It means that there is grave and imminent danger to life. No seafarer would send this message unless in danger.
All vessels hearing a Mayday call, and in a position to assist, are obliged to take appropriate action. We are sending this to you in order to give you that opportunity to do something urgently to save our community.
It is no exaggeration to say that this is the state we are in. We have been hit by one disruption after another to our lifeline ferry service. As I type this, we have just heard that the MV Hebrides has been taken off service for the third time due to issues with its firefighting system – and that within the space of a number of weeks. It is barely credible that this should be happening, and to a vessel that was in for annual maintenance only a few months ago.
When a Mayday call is heard an urgent response is required. Everything else needs to be put to the side, in order to do whatever is needed to prevent a loss of life. We are imploring you to come and meet with us and set out how you are going to save us from the demise that your department, Transport Scotland, CMAL and CalMac between them have inflicted onto our community.
Urgent action is needed to provide us with a ferry service that we can depend on. If that means the people responsible for the current debacle are left red- faced then too bad. For too long those with a vested interest in ignoring the wishes of the island communities and sticking with an outdated and inefficient design and operational system have been allowed to squander £Millions of our (taxpayers) money, and all to the detriment of the communities they are meant to be serving.
The word “Over” at the end of the message requires a reply to confirm that the message has been heard and that appropriate action is being taken. I trust that for you this will mean you agreeing to meet with us to hear the truth and not what those with vested interests are saying, and providing us with what we need to be able to save our community from the severe danger it is currently in.
Every cancelled sailing adds more fuel to the funeral pyre and pushes many businesses and residents closer to the edge for packing up and leaving. What a sad indictment on our Scottish Government that sets itself as the saviour of Scotland, that it is the cause of the demise of fragile communities through showing no care or concern for them or their needs. No amount of platitudes or promises can cover over the many years of neglect that are causing the severe injuries we are experiencing. The only remedy is immediate and direct action to save our communities by providing the necessary vessels and funding to allow us to carry on living here.
I don’t want to list here the many issues and examples of damage that we are being told about on a daily basis, preferring to share these with you face to face as that will allow a better understanding of the situation. The list would stretch to a number of pages!
We would very much like to work with you in finding workable solutions but if that cannot happen then we will need to look at what other steps we can take to get the current embarrassment of a ferry service changed to one that those using it can depend on. We have spent too many years working on building our community to allow a government that does not care to undo all the hard work and success that has been achieved.
I look forward to hearing from you in a matter of days with proposals to meet and also actions that are being taken to provide the long overdue additional capacity.
Harris Development Ltd