This link from CalMac spans all the questions you may have about the Ullapool linkspan

My request for CalMac and CMAL to respond to the MP’s request for a review of the closure of the Ullapool linkspan resulted in me being sent this link which they say answers all the relevant questions about the closure.

Posted in ferries, port, Ullapool | Tagged | 3 Comments

Who is telling the truth about the leaky Pathfinder?

Iain Maciver
Journalist and broadcaster

21 November 2014

Jane Maciver
Chief Executive
Stornoway Port Authority
Amity House

Dear Ms Maciver

re:  Sinking of the Pathfinder

On November 15, I published on my blog a posting entitled “Internal SPA probe clears everyone over Pathfinder sinking” where I made reference to an internal investigation at the SPA. I wrote: “Ms Maciver admitted there was water ingress in the vessel but downplayed its significance.”

That was because, in a letter to a stakeholder, you had written “The vessel had been pumped out by port staff between its arrival in Stornoway and the voyage to Lochmaddy. However, the pumping out was not done so often and did not involve such quantities of water that staff believed it necessary to report this.”

I have now been contacted by the organiser of the Unison local government branch who makes it clear that her members working at SPA have a very different tale to tell. They say they not only reported the water flooding into the Pathfinder but they REPORTED IT MORE THAN ONCE.

Both versions simply cannot be correct. Either the SPA union members are mistaken and what they have said is not true, or you are mistaken and what you have said is not true. It is that simple. This is the statement I received from Unison today:

UNISON wishes to put on public record that our members at SPA reported their concerns about the level of water ingress to Management on more than one occasion prior to the ill-fated voyage to Lochmaddy.


Flora Somerville
Branch Organiser
Western Isles L.G. Branch

In the light of the union statement, I wish to request a statement and particularly whether you now accept that, whether intentionally or not, you misled stakeholders and whether you intend to revise what you wrote previously about the level of water ingress into the Pathfinder.

Thank you again for all your help and time.



Posted in authority, maritime, port, Stornoway, Western Isles | Tagged | 3 Comments

Norman Macarthur’s SPA complaints also wrongly dismissed by Transport Scotland

I will not bore you with the detail of the letter from the Civil Servant Ms Val Ferguson, Ports Policy Executive at Transport Scotland in Edinburgh regarding my various complaints to Scottish Ministers in respect of spectacular failings at Stornoway Port Authority. Suffice it to say that each and every complaint has been dismissed on the grounds that “Scottish Ministers do not have a locus to intervene in disputes between a Trust Port and its stakeholders and any such matters are for the board themselves to resolve”.

Having spent some time in the Civil Service myself in the latter part of the last century I am well aware of Ms Fergunon’s difficulty and I attach no blame to her for such a totally negative response. It has always been problematic for the humble Civil Servant however well educated to fully reconcile the witterings or proclamations of a Minister and the actual reality of the real world.
If you are interested have a look at the various anomalies between the actual situation at Stornoway Port Authority and the reality as defined in
Ministerial Foreword
and in particular paras 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8.
Trust Ports and their stakeholders
and in particular
1.4.8 – Keeping stakeholders informed
1.4.9 – Widely and Effectively advertised Open Annual Meetings
Posted in authority, maritime, port, Stornoway, Western Isles | Tagged | 7 Comments

That timetable

Ullapool-Stornoway (MV Loch Seaforth)

The published timetable will operate throughout the period of the Ullapool Linkspan closure. Until Saturday 21 February 2015 passengers and vehicles will be accommodated on this service as normal. From Monday 23 February 2015 until Monday 7 April 2015 the published timetable will operate on a PASSENGER ONLY basis.

Note: there will be no service between Ullapool-Stornoway on Sunday 22 February 2015 and Sunday 22 March 2015.

………………………….Stornoway      Ullapool  Ullapool  Stornoway
.…………………………….Depart……….Arrive   Depart           Arrive
Mon – Fri                   0700                0930          1030         1300
……………………..      ….1400                 1630           1730         2000
Sat                                0700                 0930          1030         1300
…………………….      …. 1430                  1700           1830         2100
Sun………………..      . 1430                  1700           1830         2100

Uig-Tarbert (MV Finlaggan or MV Hebrides)

The published timetable will operate during the period of the Ullapool Linkspan closure.

Uig-Stornoway (MV Isle of Lewis)

An alternative service for passengers and vehicles will operate between Uig and Stornoway during the period of the Ullapool Linkspan closure.
This service will operate on a tidal basis and some short notice, weather related minor adjustments may apply to timings.

………………………………….Stornoway.. .Uig…….. … Uig………Stornoway
……………………………………..Depart…… Arrive……. Depart……Arrive
Sunday 22 February         16:00            19:00          20:00            23:00
Monday 23 February        16:45            19:45           20:45             23:45
Tuesday 24 February        07:40           10:40          11:40              14:40
…………………………………..  17:40            20:40          21:40             00:40*
Wednesday 25 February   07:35            10:35         11:35             14:35
Thursday 26 February      07:40            10:40         11:40             14:40
…………………………………….20:40            23:40            – –
Friday 27 February          – –                  00:40        03:40             09:10
……………………………………12:10             16:10         19:10
Saturday 28 February     12:10             15:10          16:10            19:10
Sunday 1 March                12:30             15:30         16:30            19:30
Monday 2 March               12:15             15:15          16:15            19:15
Tuesday 3 March              12:50             15:50         16:50            19:50
Wednesday 4 March         13:20             16:20         17:20            20:20
Thursday 5 March            04:00             07:00        08:00           11:00
………………………………….. 13:45              16:45         17:45            20:45
Friday 6 March                 16:45              19:45         20:45           23:45
Saturday 7 March             16:50             19:50          20:50           23:50
Sunday 8 March                15:05             18:05         19:05           22:05
Monday 9 March              03:10              06:10         07:10           10:10
Tuesday 10 March           03:40             06:40         07:40           10:40
Wednesday 11 March      04:05             07:05         08:05           11:05
Thursday 12 March         07:40             10:40         11:40            14:40
………………………………..  .17:35              20:35         21:35            00:35*
Friday 13 March ……….. ..07:40             10:40       11:40            14:40
Saturday 14 March           07:40             10:40       11:40            14:40
Sunday 15 March              12:00             15:00       16:00            19:00
Monday 16 March            12:15               15:15       16:15            19:15
Tuesday 17 March            12:10              15:10       16:10            19:10
Wednesday 18 March      12:20              15:20       16:20             19:20
Thursday 19 March          03:35             06:35       07:35             10:35
…………………………………..13:25              16:25       17:25              20:25
Friday 20 March               13:20             16:20       17:20             20:20
Saturday 21 March           16:50             19:50       20:50            23:50
Sunday 22 March              14:55             17:55       18:55             21:55
Monday 23 March             04:00            07:00       08:00           11:00
Tuesday 24 March            04:10            07:10        08:10            11:10
Wednesday 25 March       07:35           10:35        11:35             14:35
Thursday 26 March          07:40           10:40        11:40             14:40
……………………………… .. ..18:20            21:20       22:20             01:20*
Friday 27 March                07:10            10:10        11:10             14:10
………………………………….. 19:50            22:50        23:50           02:50*
Saturday 28 March           08:40            11:40        12:40            15:40
Sunday 29 March              12:30            15:30        16:30            19:30
Monday 30 March             12:15            15:15        16:15             19:15
Tuesday 31 March             12:50           15:50        16:50            19:50
Wednesday 1 April             13:20           16:20        17:20            20:20
Thursday 2 April                13:55           16:55        17:55            20:55
Friday 3 April                     16:00           19:00       20:00            23:00
Saturday 4 April                16:00            19:00      20:00            23:00
Sunday 5 April                   05:50           08:50      09:50            12:50
………………………………. . ..16:00            19:00      20:00            23:00
Monday 6 April                  16:00           19:00       20:00           23:00

* – arrives following morning
Posted in ferries, port, Stornoway, Western Isles | 3 Comments

Emergency meeting called over CalMac timetable

The Western Isles Emergency Planning Co-Ordination Group (WIEPCG) has met to discuss the implications of the 6-week change in ferry services that will mean vehicular traffic travelling between Stornoway and Uig on Skye.

The change in service is planned between the 22nd February and the 7th April and will reduce the number of vehicular crossings but no consultation has been held over the possible impacts.

The timetable for the vehicular service is irregular because of tidal restrictions and some services are scheduled for the early hours of the morning.

There are concerns over the impact the replacement ferry service will have on the supply chain of goods to the Islands. There are also concerns that the redirection of large quantities of HGV traffic onto roads through Skye and the adjacent mainland will have an adverse impact on traffic flows on trunk routes.

Posted in ferries, maritime, port, transport | 2 Comments

Transport Scotland tries and fails to wash its hands of the SPA

Transport Scotland is determined to let Stornoway Port Authority off the hook – except by doing so it is also breaking its own guidance. Several other non-SNP MSPs will soon raise the matter in the parliament. Here is the TS response to Captain Morris Macleod’s complaint. However, he has gone through the guidance and caught them out. His response to it is below.


19 November 2014

Dear Mr Macleod

Thank you for your email of 3 November, addressed to Scottish Ministers concerning the management of Stornoway Port Authority, to which I have been asked to reply.

You should note that Scottish Ministers do not have a locus to intervene in disputes between a Trust Port and its stakeholders and we would stress that any such matters are for the board themselves to resolve.

We would not comment on any particular situation, although we would look to Trust Ports to ensure that they are operating within the confines of their own local legislation and with cognisance to the guidance outlined in ‘Modern Trust Ports For Scotland’. Ministers would not involve themselves in the day to day decisions of the board or to question their judgement about what is best for the port.

We would however recommend that Trust Port Boards engage with stakeholders where appropriate to address any areas of concern that are raised with them.

Equally we would expect stakeholders to allow the Trust the opportunity to fully consider these matters prior to responding to the wider stakeholder community around any decisions that have been taken.

Yours sincerely

Val Ferguson
Transport Scotland


Dear Ms. Ferguson,

Thank you for your email and the attached letter. I must say I am somewhat puzzled at the response given that, in the Guidance for good governance, section 3.3.6 the following is stated :

3.3.6 However, Ministers have no locus in regulating commercial decisions or activities

of a trust port. Nor do they become involved in ‘good neighbour’ disputes as

these are matters for the board to resolve. Their interest is in ensuring that the

board does not take decisions in an arbitrary unaccountable manner which is

inconsistent with the spirit of this guidance.

Note the wording “Their interest is in ensuring that the board does not take decisions in an arbitrary unaccountable manner which is inconsistent with the spirit of this guidance”.

I am afraid that is exactly what the board of Stornoway Port Authority is doing. The way this port is being run totally contradicts the whole ethos of the Guidance for good governance. Therefore I am afraid your response is not acceptable to me as a stakeholder.

Also within the past year there have been no less than four board members resign from Stornoway Port Authority after taking issue to ongoing non compliance with the Guidance for good governance. That alone should tell you that there are serious issues within the organisation.


Morris Macleod

Posted in authority, maritime, port, Stornoway, Western Isles | Tagged | 6 Comments

UPDATED- Anger at comhairle as CalMac publishes timetable without consultation

Ferry operator CalMac has published details of its services from Stornoway when the Ullapool linkspan is closed to vehicle traffic from the end of February 2015 due its controversial replacement work.

CalMac refers to the work as “the latest in a series of investments in Ullapool harbour” and says they will “significantly enhance ferry services to the Western Isles for the long term” by removing the restrictions with the current linkspan by allowing all major vessels in the CalMac fleet to operate on the route.

However Western Isles Council is far from happy with the transport chairman slamming Calmac for not discussing the changes with islanders. Councillor John Mackay is also unhappy that on most days there appears to be only one return trip for vehicles between Stornoway and Uig and says that is bound to impact how goods are delivered to and from the islands.

The work, which will double the size of the existing linkspan, (which connects the ferry ramp with the shore) and also increase the speed of loading and unloading, is being carried out by the Ullapool Harbour Trust.

While the work is underway, the ferry will be unable to take vehicle traffic for a planned period of approximately six weeks, and alternative ferry services are being put in place to take vehicle traffic to Uig in Skye. A passenger-only service will continue to operate between Stornoway and Ullapool.

Initial site preparation ahead of the work has already started but does not affect the current service. The linkspan will close on February 22 and re-open on April 7. Further updates will follow.

CalMac said the decision to start the work in February was made to avoid the extra inconvenience that would have been caused over the busier summer months. The contractor is RJ McLeod and the Linkspan Supplier is MacGregor (Cargotec).

Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac, said: “I’m delighted this work is being carried out as it is an essential investment in ensuring Ullapool can continue to provide a safe and reliable docking facility for our ferries for many years to come, providing our customers with long term peace of mind about the future of the port.”

“We realise however that for a limited time this will cause significant inconvenience for our customers and we will be speaking to them in detail about what the best options for travel for them during these improvement works.”

“It has proved to be a significant logistical challenge, especially matching the different vessels to different tides to find a way of continuing to provide a service from Stornoway, but we believe we have achieved a good solution that will ensure the continued flow of traffic to and from the Western Isles for the duration of the works.”

Kevin Peach, harbourmaster at the Ullapool Harbour Trust said they would do all they could to minimise disruption for customers and get the improvement work completed as quickly as possible.”

However Western Isles Council is not happy. John Mackay, the transport chairman, said; “It is disappointing that these arrangements were not discussed with the Western Isles community as they will have a direct effect on both the travelling public and the business community. There are other options for dealing with the disruption caused by the necessary works at Ullapool which the Comhairle should have had opportunity to discuss with Cal-Mac.

He was not happy that on most days there appears to be only one return trip for vehicles between Stornoway and Uig and this is bound to have an impact on how goods are delivered to and from the islands.

“The people of these islands are being treated discourteously by CalMac who for a six week period will be reducing services and causing major disruption with no consultation or consideration of alternative arrangements. It is not acceptable for a publicly owned company to behave in this manner.”

Passenger ferry – Ullapool Linkspan Closure Timetable        

Freight ferry Ullapool Linkspan Closure Timetable Freight

Posted in ferries, Skye, Stornoway, Western Isles | 1 Comment

Large family wanted for TV documentary

I am currently doing research for a TV company and I want to find large families with 10 or more children at Christmas for a one-hour documentary. It will capture all aspects of family life with everything from sitting around the dinner table and reading Christmas cracker jokes to the squabbles and bickering that can often happen.

It will follow the families as they get together over the festive period, with some coming home perhaps from abroad, others bringing their new partners along for the day and getting together with extended family they haven’t seen all year.

If you are a member of such a family, particularly in the north of Scotland, or know of one that may be interested, please get in touch at

Posted in Media, TV | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Remains found in Harris after search


Search Operation – Govig, Isle of Harris

Following the report of a person missing in the Govig area of Harris late on Tuesday 18th November 2014, an extensive search involving Stornoway Coastguard Helicopter, land teams from Tarbert and Stornoway Coastguard, Hebrides Search and Rescue and Police Scotland was conducted overnight into Wednesday 19th November 2014.

As a result of this search the remains of a male person were found near to the village of Govig. His identity is not being released until next of kin have been informed.

Posted in coastguard, Harris, police, Western Isles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Balivanich nick to close for six months

Balivanich Police station is to shut on Friday and will remain closed for about six months. Police Scotland chiefs say the reason is planned maintenance.

A statement said: “As part of a planned maintenance schedule, on Friday 21 November 2014, the Balivanich Police Station at Benbecula, will be closed for approximately 24 weeks whilst essential work is carried out within the premises. All officers and staff will be relocating to Lochmaddy Police Station during the temporary station closure.”

From next Monday, a service desk will be set up at Lochmaddy Police Station. It will be open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9.30am and 3.30pm.

Police Scotland have pointed out there is phone box near to Balivanich Police Station if the public need to contact them. The non-emergency number is 101 or in the case of an emergency, dial 999.

Posted in Benbecula, crime | Tagged | Leave a comment