The first in a series of previous articles warning about the impending crisis over how the contracts for the ferries were handled by CMAL. AS READERS WILL KNOW AFTER THE DISCLOSURE PROGRAMME ON BBC last night a serious investigation is now certain to happen. It could and should have been avoided. It was clear a long time ago that something was seriously wrong. The warning was there when it became public a rival bid was ruled out through a “ supposed mistake” by CMAL staff in the presentation of the bid from Dr Stuart Ballantyne. But neither CMAL or the Scottish Government did anything. This article was first published last May but I have more articles going back much further.
A week or so ago I reported on this site that Jim Sillars had written to Scottish Police requesting they carry out an investigation into the “missing” documentation into the Ferry Fiasco.
No sooner had my feet touched earth back home in Scotland and miracle of miracles “some” of the documentation was found in the form of emails. My first point is that contracts worth way over £150 million do not rely on emails to register the decision. They are formally recorded and proper contracts are drawn up. There are, as Jim Sillars pointed out to Police Scotland well established legal requirements to do so. When potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayers money are involved, the Scottish Government must follow those procedures.
I quote from Jim’s statement “There are three Acts of the Scottish Parliament which place a solemn duty on accountable officials and ministers to minute key decisions, and to safely store the documents recording who was there, the subject matter, and the decisions taken. It is inconceivable that was not done by a professional civil service and ministers with long service in government. Indeed the First Minister confirms that there was a written record taken.
Jim went on “Where are the documents? Who was responsible for placing them in the records? Who failed to do so? Did they fail to do so? Were they destroyed? Why, among all the documents relevant to this fiasco are these ones, the key ones about who made the contract decision, not to be found?
So a partial discovery is not good enough, not nearly good enough. This has giant cover up written all over it.
I don’t have a lot of time for Douglas Ross but even he scored points at FMQ’s even though he missed the best opportunity to really take a bite out the First Minister. The email that was “discovered” and handily put all the blame on Derek Mackay was heavily redacted to disguise the clear involvement of John SWINNEY in the decision. Now you would think that a Government that had huge experience of redaction would be quite proficient at it. They had loads of practice as they worked overtime during the Salmond Enquiry to disguise and hide enormous amounts of dubious practice but now even Douglas Ross using simple cut and paste techniques was able to uncover the redacted sections. Like the entire ferry debacle even the cover up is littered with amateur failure.
There are still documents missing, we have a partial picture, nothing like the full story. The Sturgeon Cover Up Government continues to hide and conceal. Websites like this will continue to pursue and uncover on behalf of the hard pressed taxpayer.
Now in contrast to the sorry tale of the CMAL and Scottish Government failure I had the pleasure to attend an excellent presentation at the Innovation Centre of Strathclyde University of the comparisons between modern Catamaran designs for Ferries that offer much superior service performance at much lower capital and operating costs that the Ferries that the SG have ordered.
The presentations came from Dr Stuart Ballantyne, a Scot based in Australia who is internationally recognised as a world leading ship designer of ferries, Professor Alf Baird who until retirement a few years ago was the Professor for Maritime Studies at Napier University, and Professor Dracoss from Strathclyde University who has been involved in developing Stuart’s most recent development, an ingenious unsinkable ferry. Professor Dracoss is a internationally recognised safety expert.
Interest in this presentation was substantial, the room was filled with people and companies with interests in ferries either as providers or consumers of the final product. Nor was interest limited to Scotland, zoom links allowed another forty people, in countries all round the World, to view these latest developments.
Stuart has offered his designs free to the Scottish Government if they are interested in trying to rebuild a competitive shipbuilding industry in Scotland. His designs are used extensively all over the World and have a track record of excellent delivery. Because of the lower cost, greater speed of these ferries his designs could provide a much superior service to the Scottish Islands. He argues they could provide a much improved, more frequent ferry service rather than the one or two sailings a day currently on offer. This would have a dramatic impact for the better especially for island tourism and business.
It is tragic his designs were not considered properly by the committee due to a blunder by who? Another mystery as yet unsolved ,when Stuart’s proposal was being considered an “error” in supplying the correct information to the committee in providing a comparison with CMAL’s monohull design allowed his designs to be discounted. While the SG and CMAL accept the error was made nobody has taken responsibility or explained how it could possibly have happened.
This is not going to go away, instead of supplying our island communities with a much improved service, at much lower cost to the taxpayer, operating costs would also be a fraction of CMAL’s outdated designs we have also, so far, lost the opportunity to regenerate a shipbuilding industry, building very competitive ferries that are in demand not only in Scotland but all over the World.
Instead we have opted to build outdated, inefficient ferries in Turkey that even if they arrive on the planned timescale will arrive years late and at more than double the capital cost, near enough double the operating cost of a catamaran design, and that also require tens of millions of improvement works at ports to allow these outdated ships to dock.
It is a very sad story that still has the potential to get worse. A huge missed opportunity which even now could be rescued if only those responsible for these mistakes would accept that they are mistakes and change course before they lumber our islands and taxpayers for the next twenty five years with the wrong ferries.
That is the best way forward. The alternative is to spend money on training staff on redaction and concealment and hope that works better next time. Without big changes there will certainly be a next time, perhaps lots of them.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
BEAT THE CENSORS
Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.
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