ONE of Scotland’s wealthiest males says he was a pawn within the Scottish Authorities’s starvation to avoid wasting Ferguson Marine to guard Scottish jobs.
Jim McColl, the tycoon entrepreneur who owned the embattled shipyard agency Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) which was nationalised after it fell into administration two years in the past has hit again for the primary time over claims that it was solely his connections with the SNP and former First Minister Alex Salmond particularly that led to his yard profitable the ferry contracts that led to Scotland’s shipbuilding fiasco.
SNP ministers got here beneath hearth for losing public cash after an inquiry into the ferries fiasco discovered that Ferguson Marine submitted the most costly bid for the work out of six competing yards and likewise the very best specification.
Mr McColl, one in all Nicola Sturgeon’s personal financial advisers denied cronyism and stated the SNP authorities favoured the yard and never him personally and wished to make “political capital”.
The collapse of Ferguson Marine which runs the final remaining shipyard on the decrease Clyde, in August 2019, got here amid hovering prices and delays to the development of two lifeline island ferries and resulted in a Scottish Authorities takeover.
It got here 5 years after tycoon Jim McColl first rescued the yard when it went bust.
Mr McColl, as soon as a supporter of the Scottish Authorities’s coverage of independence for Scotland, however who now says he now has no political leanings stated moved in in a transfer partly brokered by former first minister Alex Salmond, who stored the entrepreneur abreast of companies that wanted saving.
READ MORE: ‘Completely insupportable’: New ferry fiasco as three lifeline ferries are laid up for repairs in two days
However the supply of latest island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which had been due on-line within the first half of 2018, is now over 4 years late, with prices doubling to over £200m.
Mr McColl blamed the rising prices on repeated design adjustments by the homeowners and procurers of Scotland’s ferry fleet, Caledonian Maritime Belongings Restricted (CMAL) for the problems in constructing the vessels for ferry operator CalMac, which can be publicly-owned.
Renamed beneath nationalisation as Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Holdings (FMPG), and supported by taxpayer money, it made a £100 million loss in its first 4 months of Scottish Authorities management.
The Scottish Authorities has stated it believes it was performing within the public curiosity in taking full management of FMEL by December, because it saved the yard from closure, rescued greater than 300 jobs, and ensured that the 2 vessels beneath building will likely be accomplished.
Mr McColl who needs an impartial judge-led inquiry into the fiasco admitted his connections had a bearing on the contracts being awarded to Ferguson Marine.
“We could have gotten the contract, however not due to my connections with the SNP, however due to my connections with the earlier chief [Alex Salmond].
“He approached me each time there was an organization in hassle in Scotland and most of them, I went again and stated there was nothing we may do with that. Once I checked out Ferguson, there’s a excellent marketplace for Ferguson and a fantastic alternative and I agreed to do it.
“I might have been higher off with out that contract, that was pushed for the federal government’s political ends not for me.
“Alex tried very arduous on each enterprise he introduced me to have a look at. Any industrial enterprise that was in hassle, which is kind of proper, it’s his job to attempt to reserve it. ”
“I did say, that we must have the proper to bid for future ferries, as a result of that will be a core a part of what we’d be capable to do.
“I did not ask for a preferential place or something like that. I realised he [Alex Salmond] was very sturdy on abiding by European procurement guidelines. We needed to abide by that, however I stated look, I’m assured we might be aggressive, all I would like is an enterprise that we are going to be allowed to bid.”
READ MORE: ‘Do not journey to Mull’: CalMac’s plea as Covid causes recent ferries disruption after vessel breakdown
He stated it was clearly understood that this could be in a aggressive surroundings.
Whereas the order for Sannox and Hull 802 was given whereas Nicola Sturgeon was First Minister, it was when Mr Salmond was SNP chief that Ferguson bought an the order for a diesel-electric hybrid ferry which was delivered for simply £12.3m in 2016 to be used on its Clyde and Hebridean routes. That’s 12.3% of the price of every of the unfinished ferries presently languishing within the Port Glasgow yard awaiting completion.
MV Catriona was the primary ship of its sort to be constructed by Ferguson Marine, which gained the contract in September 2014 shortly after the shipyard was rescued from closure.
The roll-on roll-off vessel is nearly 150ft lengthy and might take as much as 150 passengers, 23 automobiles or two HGVs.
It used low-carbon hybrid system that mixes conventional diesel energy with electrical battery energy.
Mr McColl, who has stated he’s prepared to make a return to the helm at Ferguson however says the Scottish Authorities-controlled ferries operation wants to finish stated it was delivered six weeks early and on funds.
“They [the Scottish Government] favoured the yard as a result of it was Scottish jobs and so they could make political capital out of it,” he stated.
“I used to be only a pawn on this. It’s not favouring me.”
He added: “The one factor the Scottish Authorities do very well is political propaganda. You’ve got to admire them for it.
“They’ve a slick machine, however that is fallacious. They need to be going through as much as the actual challenges and fixing them.”
The Scottish Authorities stated it believed it was performing within the public curiosity in taking full management of Ferguson Marine by December, because it saved the yard from closure, rescued greater than 300 jobs, and ensured that the 2 vessels beneath building can be accomplished.
A Transport Scotland govt, highlighting ‘presentational points’ in a confidential letter in 2015, said that Ferguson’s tender was “the very best high quality bid obtained, but additionally the very best worth”.
The letter which is partially redacted additionally says: “As with all procurement, a authorized problem from one of many unsuccessful shipyards can’t be discounted.
“CMAL [Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, which handles government ferry contracts] haven’t recognized any specific dangers on this regard and, in any case, are assured that any problem might be defended.
“That stated, the connection between Scottish ministers and Ferguson’s proprietor is well-known.”
“We had been enterprise this challenge with no revenue to the yard and we did that as a result of we thought it might be a fantastic advertising and marketing device and a fantastic case research for us. We weren’t taking it on with nice margins. It was successfully to interrupt even,” added Mr McColl who says CMAL ought to be scrapped.
“That was why it was vital that when variations got here out, that we had been paid for them.”
A Scottish Authorities spokesman stated: “We stand agency on our dedication to the vessels, the workforce and the yard. We proceed to work with companions to minimise the influence of delays and make sure the vessels, that are essential to supporting the lifeline ferry community and the Calmac fleet, enter service as rapidly as potential and ship the service enhancements which our island communities depend on.”
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