Minister defends ferry procurement 'catastrophic failure'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
27 January 2021

The Scottish government has defended procurement processes behind a controversial contract to build two new ferries.

Paul Wheelhouse, minister for energy, connectivity and the islands, said “balanced, informed” decisions were taken around the project to replace ferries on the Clyde and Hebrides network.

In a letter to MSPs he said: “I am satisfied that procurements in relation to 801 and 802 [as the ferries were designated] were undertaken fastidiously, in good faith and following appropriate due diligence,” according to The Herald.

The letter came in response to a damning report from the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee in December last year, which branded the project a “catastrophic failure” and called for a “root and branch overhaul” of procurement processes.

Wheelhouse said: “While there are lessons to be learned, which we have acknowledged, we do not accept the committee’s description of a ‘catastrophic failure’.

“In reluctantly accepting increased cost and timescale for the delivery of the vessels, Scottish ministers have acted and have secured hundreds of skilled jobs and wider economic activity. I do not regard those difficult decisions to represent a failure.”

Conservative infrastructure spokesman Graham Simpsom said: “The cost of these two ferries has spiralled out of control and they are still not even built yet, which has been a disgraceful failure for the communities which rely on them.”

An inquiry into the contract was launched in January last year after the bill doubled from £97m to almost £200m.

In 2019 the government took over Ferguson Marine shipyard after it went into administration while carrying out the contract to build the ferries.

Delivery of the ships has been delayed from 2018 to 2022 and 2023.

 Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.

LATEST
JOBS
All Offices
Competitive salary
Browne Jacobson
Homeworking
Competitive salary + great bonus structure
Evolve Commercial Ltd
SEARCH JOBS
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates
GO TO CIPS KNOWLEDGE