In a letter to Robbie Drummond, Managing Director at CalMac, Cllr. Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar stated:
“We watched your participation in the Scottish Parliament Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee of 30 May 2018 with interest and, aside from recognising the obvious and continuing need for many to have a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities in the sponsorship and delivery of Scottish ferry services, we would make the following observations.
Several of your responses, including that “ … such planning always involves locally based operations staff”, gives us comfort that you do recognise the value of such staff and, we would suggest, provides further justification for the increased location of management and administrative functions, roles and posts into those communities served by CalMac.
You suggested that lessons had been learned arising from the recent disruption and that you are “actively making changes to improve”. We would be keen to hear from CalMac at the Hebrides Ferry Stakeholder Group meeting on 7 June 2018 the detail of what improvements are to be made and when.
An obvious area for improvement is communications with communities and customers prior to and during unplanned interruptions. The importance of local knowledge is key to effective decision-making and providing accurate information associated with options and updates and we see this as a further argument for the necessary resources within CalMac to be based in the island communities you serve.
We note that you recognise the value of the “Islay Ferries Summit” and hope you would support the Comhairle in our call to the Minister for Transport and the Islands for a similar event for the Outer Hebrides as soon as possible.
“Your discussions with the Committee also suggested a recognition of the value of the tourism sector, not only to the communities you serve but also to CalMac as a major stakeholder in the tourism supply chain. Given the importance of this sector to your business, we would strongly suggest that dedicated resources be established within your commercial team to provide “key account management” for the tourism sector.
All these issues can be considered in more detail at the next HFSG meeting and we hope that CalMac will be well-represented at it.”