An alarming picture has been painted by the official report into the project to build two new ferries for CalMac, including the one for the Tarbert-Uig-Lochmaddy services.

The report to the Scottish Government says there have been a number of issues that have been the root cause of the long delays to the project. These include:

  • lack of project management, particularly critical on 801/02 which are complex ships where no one person has understood and controlled the overall programme
  • an absence of project planning and control systems has resulted in a lack of integrated working, out-of-sequence activities and no useful management information
  • Engineering processes and controls are weak. Specifications from the customer were not fully understood before design work was carried out resulting in an incomplete design and causing significant rework.

As a result of the long delays, the vessels have suffered damage. 

“Vessel 801 has been in the water for two years and the underwater condition has not been established. However, a drydocking has been planned early in the programme. Internally, the care and protection has been poor resulting in equipment damage.

“Vessel 802 has been on the berth for over two years and the paint protection has degraded in this time both on external surfaces and internally due to rainwater ingress into areas of the ship.

“As a result of the immature design and out of sequence working there has been a significant number of defects raised by the customer which have all been reviewed and where required included in the cost and programme. These include a major departure from the specification, the widespread use of axilock couplings, which together with other work, has driven the decision to remove most of the pipework within the engine room.”

The costs for delivery of the vessels are likely to total £110m and they won’t be available until late 2021 and mid-to-late 2022 at the earliest.

“As part of the programme, a remediation package of work has been identified which includes not only the clean-up and defect clearance on the vessels but also plans to improve key areas of the organisation in engineering, project management and planning and controls. Also, improvement of processes in a number of areas is planned, particularly around planning and project controls.

“On completion of the remediation phase, circa seven months, a review of the programme, costs and risks will be undertaken to better refine cost and delivery forecasts.

"In summary, the work has shown that the vessels can be delivered within the time and cost shown above but is not without significant challenges to improve the organisation and its processes in order to ensure the issues around rework and control do not occur. In particular the challenges are:

  •  The re-energising of a demoralised workforce and the improvement of productivity.
  •  The ability to attract the right talent to achieve the resource profiles with sufficiently competent people.
  •  The ability to put in place and operate the new processes required
  •  The impact of future as yet unidentified rework to the project
  •  The control and management of the design subcontractor

During this review phase it has been very difficult to identify management information to use as a baseline for determining the project status. The business does not operate an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or a document management system and therefore what information exists is fragmented and sits in isolation, the report says.

The basic design, i.e. the development of the vessels structural drawings and system design has still not achieved completion and approval by Customer, Lloyds and/or MCA except in a small number of areas. This is several years behind schedule and has been a key cause of rework on the vessels.

The status of the detailed design, i.e. the spacial layout of systems and equipment in the 3D model and issuing of information to production, has been difficult to establish. This is because the detailed design has been subcontracted to Vera Navis based in Portugal and there was limited management control established to manage this key contractor. Quantifying the work left to complete has been difficult.

There is no single source of information to define the status of the bill of material. It remains uncertain as to whether all equipment has been purchased, particularly where change has occurred. In particular, the estimate of total pipe quantities is uncertain and this is a key component for determining the programme timescales.

As a consequence of inadequate planning and a lack of production information work has been undertaken out of sequence in a number of areas particularly where insulation, ceilings and cladding have been installed. This gives the appearance of good progress but in reality this will be substantially deconstructed in order for other work to progress, particularly where hotwork is required.

There has been inadequate control of onsite subcontractors who are performing the design and installation of electrical, HVAC and accommodation outfit. This has resulted in limited design oversight and limited integration of the work at the vessel with the overall workscope. The subcontractors have therefore been frustrated in their ability to perform the work and in a number of instances this has resulted in claims, the report says. 

Reacting, Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron said: “The SNP Government seems to possess no understanding of how critically important the ferry service is to island communities like those I represent in Argyll and Bute, Skye and the Western Isles.

“It is bitterly disappointing that the vessel destined for the Skye, Harris and North Uist route will not be ready until the summer of 2022.

“This saga is entirely the fault of the SNP government. Confidence is steadily draining away as the service deteriorates and costs escalate.

“No wonder hard-pressed businesses based on the islands take such a dim view of the SNP’s twelve-year record as custodians of our vital transport infrastructure.

“Nicola Sturgeon's government needs to stop obsessing about another independence referendum and instead do the job they are paid to do, which includes keeping our lifeline ferry services fit for purpose.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan questioned Economy Secretary Derek Mackay on Wednesday about the project at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow. 

The Cabinet Secretary gave an update to Parliament about progress on the two new dual-fuel ferries are under construction for CalMac. The yard was officially taken into public ownership earlier this month after t Ferguson Marine Engineering went into administration.

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “The delays to the delivery of these vessels have been unacceptable. As I said in Parliament earlier today, it is vitally important to my constituents in Harris and Uist that vessel 802 in particular enters into service as soon as possible and relieves pressure on an ageing fleet.

“Without the Scottish Government stepping in to purchase Ferguson Marine, and bring it under public ownership, there would be no obvious means of ensuring completion of the new ferries. The Tories have let their ideology trump the needs of our island communities by continuing their opposition to this move.

“The recently-published report on the costs and proposals around these vessels lays out in some detail the how the previous failings in management have caused such significant delays. I hope vital lessons will be learned from this and that we get the building of these vessels back on track and delivered as soon as possible.”

The Programme Review Board report is available on the Scottish Government website

The Western Isles Housing Association Communities Forum achieved a recent success at the TPAS Scotland National Good Practice Awards.

The Forum were presented the Runner-up Award in the category of Tenant Participation Champion Group.

The Awards took place as part of the TPAS Scotland Annual Conference which was held in St Andrews on 4 - 6 December.

A number of members of the Forum were able to attend the conference, including Chair Alasdair Mackenzie and our Tenant Participation Officer Jane Ballantyne.

Anna Coyle, Head of Executive Office commented: “It is very encouraging to see those in our communities being recognised for the important work they do.

“We are always glad to hear from our Tenants and work closely with the Forum to ensure that all voices are heard to shape and improve the service we provide.”

If you would like to get involved in the Western Isles Housing Association Communities Forum then please contact Jane Ballantyne on 07487 891242 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alasdair Mackenzie by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Alternatively, please contact Hebridean Housing Partnership directly at their Stornoway or Balivanich offices, or on 0300 123 0773.

From left, Jane Ballantyne, TPAS; Alasdair Mackenzie, HHP Board Member; Lorna Shaw. Sue Irving, Loreburn Housing Association; James Bee, event host.

A number of graduates from the University of the Highlands and Islands were among this year’s winners and performers at the MG Alba Trad Music Awards. 

Breabach received the album of the year award for their sixth album, Frenzy of the Meeting.

Band member, piper James MacKenzie, started his studies at Lews Castle College UHI, graduating with an HNC in music. He has now returned to the university as a professional practice tutor on the applied music course.    

Trad video of the year was given to Heroes by Tide Lines. Band piper Ali Turner also studied HNC music at Lews Castle College UHI on the Benbecula campus.

Following ten consecutive sell-outs, the Tiree Music Festival received the event of the year award. Applied Music graduate Jamie MacDonald, also a member of the band Eabhal, is the festival officer and community village coordinator.  

The musician of the year award, sponsored by the University of the Highlands and Islands, was presented to Jenn Butterworth by Anna-Wendy Stevenson who leads the Lews Castle College music in Benbecula.

Anna-Wendy, a previous event winner and BA (hons) applied music programme leader explains why the university chose to become a sponsor:

“We were thrilled to be able to support and celebrate Scotland’s dynamic musical scene. The University of the Highlands and Islands is proud to be part of this exciting industry, delivering music education provision across the region and internationally.

“It is important that we continue to support events like the Trad Music Awards to recognise the achievements of our students, alumni and all those working across the music industry.”

Performing live at the ceremony was Heisk. Band members Megan MacDonald and Becca Skeoch are both graduates from the university’s applied music degree.

A welcome for local MSP Alasdair Allan from the staff at the new Island Kitchen café at Stornoway airport.

Alasdair was en route to Edinburgh and also had a chance to meet with the national management of the national catering company involved, Elior.

A company spokesman said the "Island Kitchens" at the airports in Stornoway, Kirkwall and Benebecula "are a tremendous success for ourselves and our
client HIAL."

There was a special buffet available to guests and visitors today (Tuesday December 10th) with elements of local produce from all the islands where the "Island Kitchens" brand has airport cafés. 

The business has created six jobs in Kirkwall; five in Stornoway and four in Benbecula.

Additional details and photographs have been added to this post



Sport and recreation in the Point area has received a boost with the news that Point Football Club have raised the money for a new stand, in time for the coming season.

Point FC, who won the league last year and came second this year after losing to Westside in the play-off, are about to order a new 100-seater stand from a company in Sussex after receiving a £20,000 donation for the capital project from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) and another £20,000 from the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.

The stand – an example is pictured above – costs £37,000 and the project will cost more than £40,000 once groundworks have been included. The club will also be putting money towards it and are looking forward to having it in place for the 2020 football season, following building regulations approval, as a replacement for their current stand which is rusting badly and “becoming a health and safety issue”.

Iain MacSween is secretary of Point FC and Point Sport and Recreation Association, the charity formed 25 years ago to improve the old pitch and adjacent building. He said the new stand would make a big difference to the Point FC experience – for players as well as supporters – and would complement the Ionad Stoodie community centre, next to the pitch.

He said: “After about 10 years of struggle we managed to get all the money together for what is Ionad Stoodie now. That was in 2007, as part of the improvements to the whole area. As an afterthought, there was some money left over and we bought a 50-seater stand.

“It was just a standard stand. It wasn’t galvanised which became a major problem over the years with the Lewis weather and lately we had to remove the sides from it and it was becoming a health and safety issue. It was rusting from inside. We knew it had to be replaced and we decided to go a bit bigger, take a step up, and first of all make sure the replacement would be galvanised.

“Since we were going to replace it, we thought, ‘why not increase the number of seats that are available?’ The club is very successful now and we thought a stand with 100 seats would be more useful, so that’s what we are going for.

“We’ll obviously have to put some our own money in and we’ve got funding which will make the whole thing feasible. We’ve been in contact with the stand company for the last eight or nine months. Once we put in the firm order, we hope they’ll be ready to swing into action and we hope the stand will be in place for the start of the season in April 2020.

“It’s going to make the place look really good. It will improve so much people’s enjoyment and comfort at games. It will have perspex ends to it, which is something the old stand didn’t have, and people were always complaining that it was so windy and draughty.”

There will also be wheelchair access.

Iain said: “All we need is to win the league now and that will be a perfect year for us in 2020. We’re hoping that the stand will attract more supporters. It will give a better atmosphere and it’s part of a long-term programme that we have to improve the whole facility.

“We’ve also been planting lots of trees at Ionad Stoodie, which is now a real community centre with lots of things going on in the building throughout the year, and we hope that the place will look really impressive as a sports stadium and community centre.”

Iain said “a huge thank you” to Point and Sandwick Trust and the wind farm charity’s retained community consultants, Alasdair Nicholson and Tony Robson, as well as the Landfill Fund.

The £20,000 capital grant follows other donations to the club from Point and Sandwick Trust, including sponsorship of their summer coaching school and strips for the under 18 squad.

Point FC has groups under the ages of nine, 13, 15 and 18, as well as the senior team.

Point and Sandwick Trust board member Donald ‘Buck’ Macdonald is one of the coaches with the under nine players, and said it was “fantastic news” that Point and Sandwick Trust were “able  to support our local football team in this way”.

He added: “Point FC have given the community lots of reasons to be cheerful over the past couple of years with some brilliant football and only narrowly missed out on back to back league titles! So it's great that we’re able to help them out with this much-needed upgrade to the stand.

“I help out with coaching the younger group on a Thursday night and I get to see the wealth of really talented young players coming through the junior ranks. There’s lots to look forward to for Reds fans, both next season and in the years to come. And I’m certain we can say the same of Point and Sandwick Trust.”

Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween said: “We are pleased to help Point FC and we hope they’ll have another successful season next year."

Point FC officially formed in 1934 although Point teams had taken part in one-off competitions before that. A history of the club, ‘Playing for the Red Jersey’, was written by Professor Matthew Maciver and published on the club’s 80th anniversary.

Photos of the current stand at Point FC, pictured by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos.

Also, a group photo of the £20,000 cheque being given to Point FC at the Point and Sandwick Trust AGM.

From left to right: Roddy Munro, vice-chair of Point Sport and Recreation Association, Point manager Angus ‘Stoodie’ Mackay receiving the cheque from Point and Sandwick Trust board member Donald ‘Buck’ Macdonald, PST board members Catherine Anne Smith and Jane Watson, and former Point player Kenny Nicholson.

An example of the type of stand Point FC will be ordering.

A new shipment is heading south from Stornoway to bring assistance to the work of the Glasgow City Mission, which is facing increasing demands on its support for those in difficulties.

Donations include new socks for both men and women; lots of sleeping bags; new towels, and tea, coffee, sugar– as well as money, totalling £750 in cash that’s been raised.  It totalled about 30 boxes of aid.

The appeal is being organised by the Stornoway High Free Church for the second successive year.

Charlie Nicolson, who is part of the organising team, said that in the past the Islands had been hugely generous to people in need in other parts of the world – now there was a growing need in a city where many Islanders had lived or made their homes over the years.

He said that their hope was that other island groups would “buddy up” with groups in different cities across Scotland.

Glasgow City Mission has been at work since 1826 and is the oldest city mission in the world.  It serves people affected by homelessness, by poverty, by addiction, and prostitution as well as people involved in asylum seeking and other complex problems. 

Around 200 people a day use the centre on average.  There’s an evening meal every day serving around 120 people.  There are about 25 daytime activities trying to raise the skills and confidence of people attending.  These include social interaction like lunch clubs, life-skills for cookery and budget management, art classes, music, gardening, and other activities.

As for the items being collected, the hot and cold drinks – plus all-important sugar - play a vital role in the everyday life of the mission. And the chance to take away clean clothes is a huge benefit to those in extreme poverty who had somewhere to stay but did not have resources beyond that.

The Mission also operates a winter overnight shelter and a family centre in Govan, with a range of facilities for parents and youngsters.

The mission has many connections with the Islands – including supporters who provide funding, as well as volunteers with an Island background while there are also centre users from Island backgrounds.

The mission has greatly increased its range of activities as a result of the support of funders from all Christian denominations and people of no faith - who are all convinced about the quality of the work done.