Nicola Sturgeon blasted for ‘biggest disaster in 20 years’ amid ferry chaos

Scotland: Labour MSP slams Nicola Sturgeon for ferry chaos

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Labour MSP Neil Bibby has slammed Nicola Sturgeon over the row over the Scottish Government’s investment in delayed and over-budget ferries. The Scottish First Minister has been called on to “take responsibility” amid claims the order for the ferries were rushed by the SNP-led Government for “political reasons.”

Mr Bibby told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “This is an extremely serious situation, ferries were meant to cost £87 million pounds they are two and a half times over budget.

“They are five years late.

“This has been one of the biggest public procurement disasters in the last 20 years.

“We need to get to the bottom of what’s going wrong and we also need answers on what the Government is going to do to fix this almighty mess and the First Minister really does need to take responsibility.”

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“She said last week the buck stops with her. I think the First Minister needs to answer questions this week in parliament from MSPs on this and also take over ministerial responsibility for Government investments at Ferguson.

“Because these ferries need to be delivered within these new timescales and within these new budgets.”

Ms Sturgeon has been blamed for rushing through a contract for two troubled Ferguson shipyard ferries for political purposes, something strongly denied by the Government.

The former owner of the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow Jim McColl has said the contracts were awarded quickly for “political purposes” due to the SNP conference, though Ms Sturgeon has since said this is “flatly wrong”.

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Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Tuesday, Mr McColl said: “Had I known at the time that Cmal were strongly opposed to it, I wouldn’t have taken this contract.

“How can you work with a buyer who doesn’t want you to be there?”

Mr McColl, the owner of Clyde Blowers Capital, bought the shipyard in 2014, four years before it was nationalised.

Marine engineering experts told him the preparation for the specification of the contracts was rushed, Mr McColl said.

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According to Mr McColl, the yard was asked to make constant changes to the design of the two ferries during his ownership.

He said: “There’s been a fabulous propaganda exercise carried out by the Government to try and put the blame of this on to the previous management at Ferguson’s.

“Ferguson’s had absolutely top class management that did a great job, and that’s why I’m speaking out to support them because they are being, I think, unfairly criticised.

“And again, I think this is clearly for political purposes – to put the blame on to them rather than the Government accepting responsibility.”

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