Private boat hire to take Lorna Slater to Rum cost £1,200

She visited the Isle of Rum, off the northwest coast of Scotland, last month to discuss the future of Kinloch Castle.

Private boat hire to take Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater to Rum cost £1,200 Getty Images

Scottish Government minister Lorna Slater’s private hire of a boat for a trip to an island cost £1,200, it has emerged.

Slater visited the Isle of Rum, off the north-west coast of Scotland, last month to discuss the future of Kinloch Castle.

That came after city financier and former Conservative donor Jeremy Hosking withdrew a bid for the Edwardian building, blaming an intervention from Slater.

The Scottish Government said at the time that hiring a boat, instead of using the Government-owned ferry service CalMac, allowed the minister to spend more time on the island.

A return ticket on the ferry to Rum costs £9.40 – although it is not clear how many officials travelled with Slater, which would inflate the price.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The minister’s visit on May 12 was well received by residents and community groups.

“She met every available adult resident on the day, and had important discussions with the Isle of Rum Community Trust during her visit.

“The crossing to Rum was arranged by NatureScot, with the agreement of the Scottish Government, to maximise time on the island speaking to residents and fit with Ms Slater’s ministerial schedule.”

But the Conservatives have accused the minister of having “no shame”.

The party’s transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “The Government she’s a member of has created mayhem on Scotland’s ferry network through their incompetence, and yet she thought it appropriate to shun a CalMac ferry at less than a tenner a head return to shell out £1,200 of public money on a chartered boat to take her and her team to Rum.

“It’s utterly tone deaf to the plight of islanders, who have to make do with a pitiful ferry service. It’s also the height of hypocrisy from a Green minister who’s forever demanding a greater use of public transport.”

Speaking after the trip, Steve Robertson of the Isle of Rum Community Trust told the BBC the row was a “storm in a teacup”.

He added: “Lorna Slater is coming over to do a very important meeting to try and move things forward for the community.

“It makes people feel disappointed that that’s the story when for us a taxi charter boat is a normal part of island life. We have to use these to make the island anything like sustainable.

“She can take the ferry service if she wants to have the meeting on the ferry and fit in with the very narrow options to spend time on Rum.”

A spokeswoman for NatureScot said: “We had a productive visit to Rum with the minister, speaking to residents and community groups.

“As we move forward to try and find a solution to the complicated issues around Kinloch Castle, it was important to ensure she had as much time as possible on the island and we appreciated the minister fitting the visit into her busy schedule.”

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