The signing of a six-year contract to run the lifeline ferry service to the Northern Isles has been stalled after one of the other bidders lodged a legal challenge.

Is is understood the basis of Streamline Shipping’s legal challenge the service it was offering was superior to that proposed by the preferred-bidder Serco Ltd.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that a legal challenge has been lodged and that until this has been resolved, the contract cannot be finalised.

Meanwhile, NorthLink Ferries has confirmed it is in “continuing discussions” with the Scottish Government to clarify certain aspects of the procurement process which saw ministers announce that the contract was to be awarded to Serco.

A spokesman said: “Today we seek to reassure customers that we will continue to provide our high quality ferry service to the islands for as long as it takes to resolve the current issues”.

He added: “Also, we wish to put on record our appreciation of the ongoing commitment of staff as they continue to meet customer needs during this period of uncertainty”.

 

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