MV Hebrides must return to the Lochmaddy-Tarbert-Uig route immediately, a North Uist councilor has demanded, as the repeated failure of the vessel currently servicing the triangle to sail to Lochmaddy threatens to bring about an “emergency situation”.
In an e-mail to Alasdair Allan MSP, Cllr Uisdean Robertson highlighted that three times last week MV Finlaggan – currently operating between Skye, North Uist and Harris – managed to sail to Tarbert but not Lochmaddy.
MV Hebrides is currently covering the Ardrossan-Brodick route.
Bad weather has hampered the performance of its cover in the Outer Hebrides, MV Finlaggan, which is not running today (Monday 12th January) due to strong winds.
MV Finlaggan is widely considered inappropriate for the North Uist route after a series of cancellation hit spells on the run in recent winter. CalMac has however maintained the vessel is fit for the triangle route and merely affected by severe weather risking safety.
Writing to Alasdair Allan, Cllr Robertson said: “It is now patently obvious that the Finlaggan has a problem with the Lochmaddy leg. It seems that it finds the Tarbert leg easier to manage.
“At this time of year, having our ferry MV Hebrides, the best sea going vessel in the fleet, sailing in sheltered water while this community suffers is unbelievable and unacceptable.
“The weather has been dreadful, but if you check, you will see the Finlaggan manages far more sailings into Tarbert than into Lochmaddy during bad weather.
“As this is fast becoming an emergency situation, with a bad forecast for the next few days, [Transport Minister Derek Mackay] has to ask CalMac to bring the Hebrides back by Tuesday to provide this lifeline service to and from the Uists.”
Cllr Robertson also called for Transport Minister Derek MacKay – who is also Minister for Islands – to visit North Uist and discuss the situation in person.