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Sunday, November 25, 2018 

A Scottish Government contract to refurbish four CalMac ferries has been awarded to Cammell Laird, a move which has caused considerable controversy in Scotland.

The work will be carried out at Cammell Laird’s Birkenhead yard on Merseyside, England, leading to protests by Scottish MPs and trade unions  because Cammell Laird owns the Inchgreen dry dock in Greenock, Scotland, which has been lying derelict for some time. The protesters believe that work on the Scottish ferries should be carried out at Scottish yards, helping to protect the national workforce.

Scottish ship builders and repairers, including Ferguson Marine and Dales Marine, have expressed their interest in taking over Inchgreen, but these offers have apparently been refused by Cammell Laird. The Inchgreen drydock was built in the 1960s using government finance, and work such as fitting out the QE2 cruise ship was carried out there.

Labour MP Paul Sweeney told the Scottish Daily Record: “The Scottish Government have serious questions to answer as to why they aren’t using public contracts from a Scottish Government-owned company like CalMac to support Clyde ship repair firms and instead giving them to Cammell Laird, a company who have sterilised the use of the dry dock at Inchgreen. It is unacceptable that Inchgreen – a potentially world-class facility – continues to lie dormant.

“The company’s claim to have regeneration plans for the future just don’t ring true. They say they are bidding for maintenance work on the Navy’s aircraft carriers but that could be over a decade away, if it ever happens. We need to see action to bring this site back into use now and, if Cammell Laird aren’t going to do that, then someone else should be given the opportunity. The Scottish Government should be doing everything possible to see Inchgreen regenerated but, instead, they are happy to send work down south that could be carried out on the Clyde.”

CalMac pointed out that its annual refit programme refit follows strict government regulations for competitive tendering. During the latest round of tendering, work on 19 vessels went to Dales Marine while Cammell Laird were successful in bidding for four vessels. Previously-tendered contracts for the other nine ships in the fleet resulted in Dales Marine winning work on seven vessels with the remaining two contracts going to Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Company.

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