Highlands and Islands MSP, Edward Mountain today questioned whether sufficient checks were carried out by the Scottish Government before milestone payments were made for the construction of vessels 801 and 802 in Port Glasgow to the tune of £82.5m.
Edward Mountain MSP said “the taxpayer handed over 84% of the contract value for two ferries in return for one rusting hull and some spare parts.”
The MSP also confirmed that he has lodged FOIs for each milestone payment asking for details on the checks that were made and who approved the payments. However, the Scottish Government have delayed an answer to each FOI request so far. A move Edward Mountain MSP claims is “secretive.”
Edward Mountain MSP chaired the Ferries Inquiry as Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity.
Their report concluded the that the process to procure and construct vessels 801 and 802 was a “catastrophic failure”.
In his speech to the Scottish Parliament, Edward Mountain MSP said:
“Let’s look at the milestone payments made to Fergusson Marine, which saw the taxpayer hand over 84% of the contract value for two ferries in return for one rusting hull and some spare parts. Initially there 15 of these stage payments but then when things started to go wrong at the yard the Government increased to them to 18 allowing the contractor to get more dosh.
“As a surveyor with fifteen years of experience, I know that when staged payments are agreed, that a quantity surveyor will need to sign each one off. It cannot possibly have happened here.”
Edward Mountain MSP added:
“When checking the milestones payments they certainly did not listen to the skilled workforce of the yard. We know for a fact from the union rep, Alex Logan, that workers knew of the faults but were required to press ahead with a construction based on flawed designs.
“Did the Scottish Government ask them? No they just dished out the dosh. Our dosh!
“The unapproved bulbous bow of hull 801, rear mooring stations not fit for purpose, cables up lift shafts all triggered payments.
“They even signed off the payment for launching the vessel – ignoring the fact that it had fake funnels connected to pretendy engines and painted on windows.
“This Government went on to pay all but one of the milestone payments for hull 801 ridiculous when it was clear it wasn’t even half built.
“Lessons weren’t learnt when it came to Hull 802 either. Thirteen out of the eighteen payments were made, with little more than the keel being laid.”
Edward Mountain MSP concluded:
“This shambolic and scandalously organised contract needs a full public inquiry.”