Difficult to identify how public money was spent on ferries, say MSPs

The two vessels are being built at the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow.

Difficult to identify how public money was spent on ferries, say MSPs STV News

MSPs probing the ferries fiasco say it has “proved difficult” to identify how vast sums of public money have been spent to deliver the two vessels.

Despite the project having began in 2015, the vessels have still not been completed and are also significantly overbudget.

In September this year, the cost to build the two CalMac ferries rose by a further £70m, taking the total to around £240m.

Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee has been investigating how the money has been spent to deliver the two vessels – The Glen Sannox and hull 802.

They have heard from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, former Ferguson marine boss Jim McColl, and the former transport secretary Derek Mackay, among others, as part of their probe.

Members of the committee visited the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow on October 31 this year.

In a letter to David Tydeman, chief executive at the yard, committee convener Richard Leonard outlined the difficulty facing MSPs in identifying how the money had been spent.

“Despite our efforts, it has proved difficult to identify how the vast sums of public money have been spent to deliver vessels 801 and 802, from the inception of the project in 2015 up to present day,” the letter stated.

“The Committee appreciates that you were not involved in the operation of the yard until February 2022.

“However, it is recognised that, in addition to your insights from being in post for almost a year at the yard, your wealth of experience in the construction and marine manufacturing industries, may enable you to offer a perspective on how this money could be accounted for.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Miles Briggs accused the SNP of “total incompetence” of awarding the ferries contract to Ferguson Marine.

He said: “This letter lays bare the lack of transparency around the building of these two ferries.

“The fact that we don’t know how these eye-watering sums have been spent tells you everything you need to know about the SNP’s secret Scotland.

“The SNP’s total incompetence in this process has seen costs spiral out of control and left island communities completely abandoned at every turn.

“The fact that this crucial committee cannot find out where the public money has been spent sums up why we must have a full inquiry into the SNPs’ ferry scandal to uncover the whole truth once and for all.”