Easdale says cash thrown at ferries ‘like confetti’
Ferry late: ‘the bungled contract has become a national embarrassment’
Bus and property tycoon Sandy Easdale has accused the SNP of throwing taxpayers’ cash around like ‘confetti’ in the ongoing ferries scandal.
Mr Easdale, who with brother James expressed an interest in the Ferguson Marine yard when it fell into administration more than six years ago, said the people of Inverclyde were ‘sick of the national embarrassment’ created by the Scottish government.
The brothers own the Greenock-based McGill’s Buses and are currently spearheading the £350m rejuvenations of the former IBM Greenock and Tullis Russell papermill site in Glenrothes.
Sandy Easdale launched his attack on the government’s handling of the Ferguson ferries contract following fresh revelations that the Scottish Government paid consultant Tim Hair £791,285 last year to run the stricken yard.
After its collapse in 2014 it was sold to Monaco-based Jim McColl and was subsequently handed a £97m contract for two new CalMac vessels which could cost taxpayers up to £300m to complete.
Sandy Easdale: ‘nothing short of a national scandal’
The McGill’s owner – who is not affiliated to any political party – has written to Stuart McMillan, the SNP representative who is seeking re-election to Greenock and Inverclyde, to express his dismay at the latest news.
Mr Easdale said: “The situation at Ferguson’s since the first administration has been nothing short of a national scandal. I know the skills and talent that were there when we looked at the business in 2014 – it needed leadership and investment to make it prosper.
“Instead, time after time, the workers at Ferguson’s and the people of Inverclyde have been let down by mismanagement and a succession of individuals only interested in lining their own pockets at the taxpayers’ expense.
“When you think the situation can’t get much worse then news breaks that £790,000 of public cash is being paid to a consultant to run the yard. This is while staff are leaving in their droves because they no longer want to be associated with the scandal that the SNP Government has created there.
“Ferguson’s is a relatively small facility and should be simple to manage with the right people and processes. However, there is a lack of accountability and we are seeing tax contributions thrown around like confetti. I’m sick of it and I know the people of Inverclyde are too.
“If I was to manage any of my businesses in a similar fashion then I’d cease trading and carry the can for that. But with this government, no one takes responsibility regarding this saga.
“Recent figures I saw quoted in the media said that in 14 years pre-devolution and up to the 2007 Scottish elections — 12 ferries with a combined tonnage of 33,350 were launched. In the following 14 years, with the SNP in power at Holyrood, only five ferries with a combined tonnage of 16,188 entered service.
“It is clear that there is severe mismanagement regarding our once proud shipbuilding tradition in Inverclyde and it’s about time we got real answers for why that has been allowed to happen.”
The Easdale Brothers are major employers in the Inverclyde area and were born and raised there.
In the letter to Mr McMillan, Sandy Easdale says that he intends to be more vocal about the Ferguson situation before, during and after the election.
Letter to Stuart McMillan