The failure to make any improvements to Shetland's lifeline shipping service will be raised in Holyrood by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott. He has a question next week at Ministerial Question Time (Thursday 31st January).
Tavish has already discussed the government tender with local organisations and Shetland Islands Council. Many are very concerned that despite the range of suggestions made, the government tender is for more of the same with no obvious improvement to Shetland's connections to the Scottish mainland.
"I am extremely concerned that the necessary service improvements to Shetland’s lifeline shipping links to the Scottish mainland have yet to materialise.
"At the Scottish government's request, many different organisations, businesses and individuals in Shetland made sensible suggestions on improvements to the service. ZETRANS ran workshops for the government that illustrated what needed to change. Shetland's seafood industry, worth £300 million and growing, expressly illustrated the increased tonnage of exports that the north boats will have to carry.
"It is therefore very difficult to understand a government tender that does not take these improvements into account. Why has the government ignored the input from so many local organisations? We are still in the dark over the detail. That in itself is unfortunate. It appears that the Scottish Government have issued a status quo tender. Therefore they have ignored the serious and sustained case that Shetland has made for improvements. That is not good enough. Has the government learnt nothing from previous exercises? Do they not remember the stinging criticism by Audit Scotland of the way in which they handled the last tender?
"I expect the Scottish Government to publish the details and the name of the third mystery company. This is meant to be an open and transparent process involving Shetland. Sadly, so far it is not. Given the very tight timetable, again something caused entirely by the government’s inability to make a decision on whether it planned to tender or not, time is of the essence.
"I will be pressing Scottish Ministers for an immediate, open and helpful response in Parliament."