Scots taxpayers have been 'robbed' over £3.5mil ferry fiasco bill

Counting the cost of ferry crew fiasco

In the early 1900s, a fifth of all ships in the world were made on Glasgow’s River Clyde.

Scotland was respected globally for its engineering excellence, with 370 vessels completed in one year alone.

It is a damning indictment that just over a century later, we have become an international laughing stock over our inability to build just two simple car ferries.

Ferguson Marine was awarded the contract in 2016 and had been expected to deliver the ships in two years for £96million.

Eight years and one nationalisation later, and CalMac is still waiting for delivery and the price has ballooned to £360million.

The fiasco has prompted Lord Robertson to warn MSPs taxpayers are “being robbed”.

To add insult to injury, it has now emerged that along with the stratospheric cost of the ferries, CalMac has been paying the wages of 14 crew members for one of the ferries for the last two years.

Despite the Glen Sannox being yet to carry a single passenger to Arran, a £3.5million bill has been accumulated for staff including three captains.

The issue has been that crew need to be taken on when a vessel is six months from completion – as this one should have been for the last several years.

In Scotland, working families on average earnings are paying more income tax than they would in England. If the money is funding better public services and support for the most vulnerable, that is a good thing.

But it will leave many with a sinking feeling to instead foot the bill for government incompetence.

We all share Humza pain

The level of vile racist abuse targeted at Humza Yousaf on a daily basis is shameful.

Being the leader of a country is a difficult enough job and would put a strain on most.

The former first minister managed to juggle it all in the face of disgusting slurs being levelled at him on social media.

His abusers are mainly anonymous and social media platforms like Facebook and X allow them to hide behind their computers.

They should do more to stop this hate speech – taking reports seriously, realising the effect this has on people’s mental health, their families and society as a whole.

They should be quick to ban people from their platforms for repeated abuse.

The impacts of this bile are widespread and could deter others from ethnic minority backgrounds from following Humza.

A diverse group of politicians is essential for good government and something that’s lacking in both Holyrood and Westminster.

We must do more to encourage people from all walks of life into politics – not scare them away.

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