Supplement to today's earlier post
Since I wrote the earlier post today I have received a response to an FoI request I made to the Scottish Government on the same subject of vessels for Gourock-Dunoon, This is a supplement to the earlier analysis of my Freedom of Informaiton requests to CMAL in my post of the 25th \March and earlier post today 10th April. These earlier posts should be read first
First, read this statement by the Scottish Government in the Dunoon Observer 4th March 2010
Sounds good doesn't it? Suitable second had vessels (in the plural) available for Gourock-Dunoon, and all the information collected on this to be passed on to potential tenderers for the route. At first sight this would appear to negate the warnings by myself and others that suitable vessels simply were not available.
However, read this response from the Scottish Government's Transport Directorate Ferries Division dated 8th April and received today to an FoI request that I sent to the Scottish Government on the 12th March. The FoI request was essentially the same as the one I sent at the same time to CMAL with the same six questions. The official responded:
There are two points worth noting here
First note how "suitable second-hand tonnage" in the earlier statement from the government spokeswoman now morphs into "could operate" in the instructions given by the Government to CMAL in this FoI response. These are very different things. It is conceivable a Model T-Ford "could operate" on the road to Dunoon, that does not make it a "suitable" form of transport for everyday use. But the "could operate" condition is in fact what CMAL took as its mandate, my first set of FoI responses from CMAL 25th March indicated that "The criteria used by CMAL to define suitable second-hand tonnage are vessels that it is believed could access the shore infrastructure at Gourock and Dunoon i.e. length, breadth and draft". That was not CMAL fault or mistake, they were just doing what the Government ordered, and then after that the Government tried to give a different impression of what they meant by "suitable" here. As I have noted previously, they probably would have got away with this had it not been for FoI legislation.
Second, note that the Government spokesman said " All of the information and details collected will be provided to tenderers" and the FoI response I received today confirms that this exercise will " enable CMAL to be in a position to offer assistance to any potential bidder who might be looking for an appropriate vessel.
But as my last set of FoI responses from CMAL confirm, the names of all but one of the vessels (the tidally-challenged "Vesborg") are "unknown" to CMAL. So how can they offer assistance to tenderers when they do not even know the identity of these vessels?
My sympathy in all this is with CMAL, they are just doing what they were ordered to. I am not surprised they did not keep a note of the names of the vessels that they found "could operate" the Gourock-Dunoon shore infrastructure. Why should you when you do not think there is any chance of anyone ever asking you for that information.
Neil Kay April 10th 2010