Scottish government has made a decision to review the need to put lifeline ferry services out to tender in the future, according to Nautilus trade union.
Announcing the move, the country’s transport minister Humza Yousaf said he wanted to examine the legal, policy and financial implications affecting the procurement of key Scottish ferry services to islands and remote communities.
Following feedback from the European Commission, he said the review would assess whether Scottish ferries could be covered by the ‘Teckal exemption’ which enables some services to be operated by an in-house provider without the need for competitive tendering.
Tendering for the Gourock-Dunoon services have been put on hold while the study takes place, and the minister said it will also address the implications for the planned tendering of the Northern Isles services, as well as assessing the requirement to ensure compliance with EU state aid rules.
“We cannot pre-judge the outcome of the review. However, should it conclude that it would be possible to apply the Teckal exemption and meet state aid rules then we would be minded to provide ferry services through an in-house operator, taking account of the communities they serve,” Yousaf said.
“We have always maintained that the tender process was unnecessary, costly and unsettling for our members and the communities they serve,” Mark Dickinson, Nautilus general secretary, added.