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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 18:09 GMT
Lord Robertson joins ferry board
Lord Robertson
Lord Robertson is a former shadow Scottish secretary
Western Ferries has announced the appointment of former Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson to its board.

The small company is bidding to take over Caledonian MacBrayne's ferry services in Scotland.

As an MP, George Robertson led a Scottish Labour Party hostile to the privatisation of ferry services and highly supportive of CalMac.

But he said on Thursday that Western Ferries had revolutionised services and more should benefit from its approach.

Route subsidies

Lord Roberston called for the bulk of CalMac routes - which are being lumped together in the tendering process - to be broken up to allow competition.

Former Labour colleagues have registered surprise at his move while the Scottish National Party remarked on a deep irony.

The Conservatives have welcomed his conversion to the benefits of competition.

Western Ferries will see Lord Robertson's appointment as a massive boost to its ambitions.

It is one of the two independent companies bidding to take over CalMac's Clyde and Hebrides services.

CalMac ferry
Ferry services are being tendered under competition rules

It is understood that only three bidders now remain - CalMac, Western Ferries and V Ships.

Subsidies on the routes currently cost the taxpayer about 28m a year.

The companies are competing for the right to run the parcel of 25 services from 2007.

Western Ferries currently competes with CalMac on the Gourock to Dunoon crossing.

V Ships is one of the world's biggest ship management companies, servicing a fleet of more than 600 vessels.

A former trade union leader, then shadow Scottish secretary, Lord Robertson has become one of the most eminent Scots of his generation.

He currently holds positions with Cable and Wireless and the Weir Group.


SEE ALSO:
Contest narrows for CalMac routes
23 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Strong interest in CalMac routes
15 Nov 05 |  Scotland
CalMac tender plans win backing
14 Sep 05 |  Scotland
CalMac tender plans to go ahead
13 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Pension concern over ferry tender
09 Sep 05 |  Scotland


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