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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
CalMac ferry contract confirmed
CalMac ferry
CalMac was the only company to tender for the services
Ministers have confirmed that ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has been awarded the contract to run the Clyde and Hebrides services.

It formally marks the end of the previous Scottish Government's controversial tendering process.

State-owned CalMac, which already operates the services, was forced to tender for the routes in a bid to satisfy European competition rules.

Two private operators who expressed an interest pulled out of the process.

After a parliamentary battle, the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration finally persuaded Holyrood that offering CalMac routes to the private sector was the only way of satisfying EU competition demands.

It is extremely disappointing that the government appears not to have seen the value of the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route
Donald Manford
Western Isles Council

In the event, the only private operators who expressed interest in the more than 20 routes - the offshore company V Ships, and Dunoon's Western Ferries - pulled out.

This left CalMac as the only bidder.

Despite bitterly opposing the process, the incoming SNP administration decided to see it out as the quickest way of settling the six year contract, which last year cost the taxpayer about 30m.

However Gourock to Dunoon, where even CalMac failed to bid, remains to be settled.

The announcement on the Clyde and Hebrides routes was followed by criticism from a senior councillor on the Western Isles.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's chairman of transportation, Donald Manford, said he was disappointed a route from the isles to the mainland had not been included.

He said: "I am pleased that this whole beauracratic process has finally been brought to an end though saddened that millions have been spent on unnecessary paperwork rather than on improving services.

"It is extremely disappointing that the government appears not to have seen the value of the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route and the benefits to the area that would have brought."

CalMac lodges tender for routes
10 May 07 |  Highlands and Islands
CalMac tendering 'cost millions'
07 Mar 07 |  Scotland
Rival's anger at CalMac discounts
22 Dec 06 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
V Ships pulls out of ferry tender
29 Jan 07 |  Highlands and Islands
CalMac routes put out to tender
14 Dec 06 |  Scotland


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