Error, or burying the evidence?

This (below) is either an error or one more scandal in the sorry saga of Gourock-Dunoon

On a high traffic route like Gourock-Dunoon a passenger-only service can be very expensive and needs high subsidy because it delivers little farebox revenue and can require high crewing levels for passenger safety reasons. Adding car deck facilities on such routes will typically add much more to revenue than costs and so help reduce or even eliminate the subsidy on the route

This is a general finding for such routes and was also confirmed for Gourock-Dunoon by the study carried out by Deloitte Touche for the Scottish Executive. The report made clear that a modern vehicle and passenger service would be the cheapest and most effective way to provide a frequent service between Gourock and Dunoon town centres, amongst other gains saving the tax payer many millions of pounds of subsidy over the passenger-only alternative.

The Deloitte Touche report has been available on the Scottish Executive and then the Scottish Government website ever since its publication right up to until recently - I know, because I have checked regularly and have been citing it frequently on my own website. The report is also being cited by David Stewart MSP in his current motion before the Scottish Parliament arguing the case for a frequent vehicle and passenger service between Gourock and Dunoon town centres.

On checking today I found that it had been removed from the Scottish Government website at its normal location with just an error term saying the requested Report could not be found. It says "Error 404: The requested page could not be found within the The Scottish Government web site".

It was there last month (I checked) and had been available on that site since 2000.

The link to the Report from my own website also brings up an error term saying the Report could not be found.

This could of course be just a temporary mistake, though it is just coincidental with the Report being used in a current Motion to the Scottish Parliament that has the potential to severely embarrass the Government If its removal is an error, presumably we can expect the Deloitte Touche Report will again be made available on the Government website shortly.

Or it could be one more example of Government attempting to not just airbrush history but (more seriously) to remove information whose availability would have been in the public interest but not certain political (Governmental) interests . If so, it would fit well with the recent Scottish government attempts to persuade - frankly to mislead - the community that "suitable" vehicle ferries are available for this route on the second-hand market, see my earlier post on "suitable vessels" . If this sounds cynical, it is born of experience.

The MSP David Stewart has been contacted by community interests and I understand he is pursuing this matter. I will post any relevant developments I hear on this site

One last thought for the moment . This is the Clyde Crossing and in transport and strategic terms is as important to the users and dependent commnunities as the Forth Crossing. If what has happened here had happened on the Forth Crossing, it would have been national headlines. This deserves at least the same exposure

Neil Kay 1st July 2010