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McArthur raises refit problems with Transport Secretary

MV Helliar replaced the MV Hamnavoe on the Pentland Firth route earlier this month.
(PIC: Craig Taylor)
NorthLink’s MV Hamnavoe.

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has again raised in parliament concerns in Orkney about the decision to replace MV Hamnavoe with a freight vessel during the recent refit period.

Mr McArthur had previously highlighted the issue with the First Minister back in November, saying that Orkney was being “badly let down.”

Earlier today, Wednesday, Mr McArthur pressed the Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, if he thought that this arrangement, which follows the same approach taken last year, met the needs of either the local community or indeed tourists wishing to visit Orkney.

In response, Mr Matheson acknowledged the problem and suggested that the government is looking at what might be done in future through the ferries review.

Commenting after the exchange, Mr McArthur said: “Replacing MV Hamnavoe with a freight vessel was initially described by Ministers as a ‘one off’. Clearly that is not the case.

“I have had a number of constituents contact me in recent days expressing frustration at being unable to access the Stromness/Scrabster service due to a lack of spaces on particular sailings. That is unacceptable on what is supposed to be a lifeline service.

“The current contract has seen services cut on the Pentland Firth route and inadequate provision put in place to cover the refit period. As negotiations over the future contract are taken forward, these glaring failures must be addressed so that people in Orkney get the service they need and deserve all year round.”

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