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Islanders…who needs them on the board of a ferry company?

Wait a minute…how do most people get to islands? Would that be ferries? And who knows more about ferry journeys, then? 

That would be Islanders…surely.

But that argument has not impressed the Scottish Government. 

As before, the likes of property developers, accountants and human resources consultants from the mainland have been chosen. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar says today (Monday December 6) that it has expressed disappointment that the Scottish Government have completed the appointments to the David MacBrayne Group Board but ignored the pleas from councils and stakeholders across the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service network to address the fundamental gap in user experience of those appointed to that Board. 

Not one single resident of an island served by David MacBrayne Group or its subsidiary Calmac Ferries Limited sits on the company board and this opportunity to right this wrong has been passed up by Ministers.

Instead they have appointed a new Chairman and three new non-executive Directors with no residential tie to the communities the company serves.

At a meeting of the Hebrides Ferry Stakeholder Group (Thursday 2nd December) community stakeholders supported the call for lived experience of these ferry services be a prerequisite of any and all future appointments to the Board of David MacBrayne Group. 

Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, CouncillorUisdean Robertson, said: “The recent failure to address the absence of residents of the islands served by Calmac in the appointment of Board Members to David MacBrayne Group has caused real anger in our communities. 

"It is little wonder that the management of the company are so detached from the reality of their decisions when they are based far away at a Headquarters in Inverclyde and those appointed to hold the company to account have limited experience of how the company’s actions affect people from Lewis to Arran. 

"Having raised this issue with the Transport Minister I had hoped our concern was understood and these vacancies would be filled by islanders. The Comhairle will continue to press the case for real and meaningful change in the voice communities have in shaping our lifeline ferry services”. 

The chairman of the independent Ferries Community Board Angus Campbell attended the meeting and shared the frustration.  Mr Campbell said: “The Ferries Community Board firmly believe that life experience of living on Islands and first hand knowledge of how lifeline Ferry services impact on island communities are an essential part of the skill mix required to undertake these roles. An opportunity has been lost to add knowledge and improve decision making for both the company and the communities they serve”.

It was the Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey MSP, who last week announced the appointment of Erik Østergaard OBE as Chair of the Board of David MacBrayne Limited.  The Minister also announced the appointments of Tim Ingram, Grant Macrae and Sharon O’Connor as Non-Executive Directors of the DML Board.

Chair Appointment

Erik Østergaard OBE is CEO of a transport and logistics organisation.  He has more than 35 years of experience in senior management positions in the shipping, ferry and transportation industry  Originally trained in shipping, he later studied international economics and management at IMD in Lausanne, Stanford Graduate School of Business, California, and Boot School of Business, University of Chicago from where he earned a degree as Master of Business Administration.  He has held and holds office as a Non-Executive Board Member or Chairman of several companies in the shipping and transportation industry, numerous government committees and boards of trade associations.

Non-Executive Director Appointments

Tim Ingram brings a range of health and safety, enterprise risk management and governance skills together with a wealth of energy industry, marine and port operations experience.  He is a Non-Executive Director of Western Isles NHS Board, sitting on various Committees including the Healthcare Governance and Audit Committee, which he chairs.  He worked in the offshore oil and gas industry and joined the Health and Safety Executive in 1992 as a Specialist Inspector becoming the Principal Inspector responsible for the inspection of gas and pipeline facilities across Scotland.  Latterly he held corporate and director level health and safety and assurance roles in Maersk Oil, the Wood Group, Dana Petroleum and the Port of Tyne.  He now runs a specialist health and safety consultancy and is voluntary guest lecturer at Imperial College, London.

Grant Macrae is a Member of ICAS and CIPFA and has extensive experience of audit, risk management and governance.  For many years he led external audit of a wide range of entities owned by government across the public sector. He has participated in the development of international accounting standards.  Since returning to the UK he has been a board member of several bodies where he has chaired finance or audit and risk committees.  He has also been an independent member of the audit and risk committee of two large organisations.  He is currently a Board Member of the Scottish Police Authority.

Sharon O’Connor is a Fellow and Chartered Director of the Institute of Directors and a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel Development as well as being professionally qualified in Marketing.  She was the former Chair of the Education Authority NI and was previously Chief Executive of Derry City Council.  She has extensive experience in capital projects, public services, economic development and tourism.  Ms O’Connor serves on the Accounts Commission for Scotland; is a Board member of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI); and the NI Transport Holding Company (Translink).

The appointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.

Length of Term, Remuneration and Time Commitment

All four appointments are for three years.