Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are seeking an intervention from the Minister for Energy, Islands and Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse MSP to stop a proposed double year increase in commercial vehicle fares proposed by Calmac.
At the height of the pandemic with timetables frozen at a winter frequency the decision was rightly taken to freeze the planned 2020 commercial vehicle fares increase that would have added further hardship to islanders. At the same time the decision was taken by Calmac not to recruit staff to enable the planned summer 2020 timetable to operate. This trade off was accepted by everyone across the islands.
Last week Comhairle nan Eilean Siar learned that Calmac had contacted a number of island based hauliers to advise that Transport Scotland had approved a fares structure for Calmac for Summer 2021 that would increase fares by 2.5% for HGVs and by 3.5% for vans and LGVs. This would combine the planned 2020 fare increase with a further increase for 2021.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar consider it wholly unacceptable for Ministers and Calmac to introduce above inflation fare charge increases before normal service is resumed and when timetables were kept at winter levels all through 2020. Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure Cllr Uisdean Robertson said,
“The Highlands and Islands have been hardest hit regions economically in Scotland as a result of the pandemic and nowhere have its effects been more felt than the Western Isles. Last year I wrote to the Islands Minister urging that Government act to reduce freight fares to our islands and setting out a range of measures that could be brought in to achieve this. Before the damage is done I hope the Minister can intervene now and stop this double whammy of fare rises on the haulage sector that will inevitably be passed on to each and every islander.”