Our constituency MSP Michael Russell wrote to you on the 20th April regarding the re-arrangement of vessels and timetables due to the continued absence of The MV Clansman from its normal route pattern, Oban-Coll-Tiree.
Tiree Community Council have additionally lodged a formal complaint with CalMac Ferries Ltd, seeking clarification and remedial action on a number of issues around the recent CalMac press release. However, in advance of any response from CalMac Ferries management team, the Tiree Community Council would ask you as Transport and Islands Minister to look urgently at the current chaotic, and frankly ineffective booking system.
The current displayed timetables for Oban-Coll-Tiree bear no factual resemblance to the reality of the changed situation. Attempts to book an advance ticket any more than one week ahead are met with dismay and confusion by central head office ticketing staff. Those customers with long held existing reservations are being given erroneous information which does not comply with the booking they made, or with email messages that are being sent. Promised text messages to update passengers most often are simply not sent, or contain inaccurate information. Also, the CalMac press release makes reference to a number of important island cultural events due to take place across the network, but somehow, CalMac management have completely forgotten to acknowledge or deal with the fact that Tiree has similarly important scheduled cultural and business events coming up. Currently, there is no indication, and/or plan of what will be done to meet the expected surge in demand, with the unquestionable chaos and confusion that will result. The dreadful state of confusion that was in evidence of the holiday Easter holiday period, is now set to continue.
The whole matter is having an extremely destabilising and demoralising effect on the travelling public, as well as island residents, island business’ and has already to our certain knowledge led to early cancellations of travel.
Tiree Community Council would have expected that there is a current and up to date risk register for an organisation of the size and stature of the David MacBrayne Group, and if this is indeed the case, then we do question why the corporate, reputational, and commercial risks associated with the breakdown of a major vessel have not been pre-determined and contingency measures already agreed well in advance. This would appear not to be the case, as decisions are seemingly taken on an ad-hoc random basis, with enormous reputational damage to the company, as well as considerable financial loss in terms of foregone revenue to the taxpayer.
Tiree Community Council can provide if you wish, both verbal and written evidence to substantiate the above statements. However, there is no time to lose in sorting out the current booking, availability and scheduling shambles that we face from one week to the next, with no apparent forward plan or stability in sight.
Your intervention Minister is urgently sought!