Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract

Islay 3

The Scottish Government is to explore awarding the next contract to operate the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services directly to CalMac Ferries Ltd.

A due diligence process has been launched to establish the feasibility of a direct award using the “Teckal exemption”, in accordance with the Public Contracts Scotland Regulations 2015. It will look at the award from a financial, operational and legal perspective, with a view to a final decision being taken next summer.

Direct engagement with communities and stakeholders will be crucial in order to inform the development of the new contract, regardless of the chosen procurement route.

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said:

“I am acutely aware of the vital importance of these lifeline services for our island communities and that is why we must look at the optimum model for the next contract to ensure improvements across the network.

“A direct award to CalMac would help change the ethos of the service by shifting the focus from a commercial arrangement to a model more focused on the delivery of a public service. This would help drive service improvements, deliver better communications with communities and introduce meaningful performance indicators that better reflect the experience of passengers using the services.

“It would also provide us with the opportunity to consider adding CalMac as a relevant Authority under the Islands (Scotland) 2018 Act, strengthening the ability of communities to feed into Impact Assessments to inform future changes.

“This contract award will sit alongside important policy measures to improve our ferry services, such as the Island Connectivity Plan and Fair Fares Review, as well as our significant investment in new vessels and infrastructure.    

“I want to be very clear that this will not be an extension of the status quo. I expect a direct award to be a catalyst for positive change on the Clyde and Hebrides network, based on a more efficient, flexible model in the delivery of this important public service.” 

Published 16 Nov 2023