Friday, 5 March 2010

The Story of a Quango and a Small Private Business

There's a wee bit of water between Gourock and Dunoon in the west of Scotland. Many people live on the Cowal peninsular and use ferries on a daily basis to commute between home and the Glasgow area.

You'll remember the recent fiasco concerning the quango Strathclyde Partnership for Transport which has lost three of its heid bummers once it was declared an inquiry into expenses was to be undertaken.

SPT operate a (publicly funded) ferry service along with a small private independent ferry company Western Ferries. SPT have also operated a subsidised travel scheme for those above the age of 60 and eligible and very recently applied to increase the charge for this service to 60p or £1 because, "We want to secure the long-term stability of the concession scheme within tight financial settlements." Just to remind you, SPT is a government quango and funded by government money.

However, Western Ferries has said it had decided not to charge the new fares. Western Ferries managing director Gordon Ross said:

"It is regrettable but totally understandable, given the current economic conditions, why the authorities have felt the need to reintroduce fares for the concessionary card holders.

"Western Ferries views itself as a community-focused ferry operator and this decision has been made in recognition of the loyalty and support given to Western Ferries by the local Cowal community and in recognition that these charges could have had an adverse effect on those making regular trips to Inverclyde for hospital visits."

I know who I'd sail with and not because I'd save a few pounds a week. Why is it a small private business can handle the present economic squeeze when a large government quango has great difficulty? There has been talk about SPT being an organisation set up in a mode of 'jobs for the boys'. Seems more and more like it doesn't it.

Well done Western Ferries!


JuliaM said...

Yes! Great to see some good news for a change!

subrosa said...

I always try for one wee cheering post on a Friday Julia. Sometimes it's difficult to find one of course. :)

Robert said...

I know who I'll be sailing with when our pipe band competes at Cowal this year. Hooray for Western Ferries.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

"Why is it a small private business can handle the present economic squeeze when a large government quango has great difficulty?"

To ask the question is to answer it.

One has to watch its overheads all the time, and risks going out of business if it gets things wrong, whereas the other is funded out of the taxpayers' bottomless money-pit, and risks nothing.

subrosa said...

The very best of luck Robert with the blawing comp. :)

subrosa said...

Ah Weekend Yachtsman, you see you put it so much better than me though. :)

Strathturret said...

I have a vague idea that Western Ferries was set up by a former Clyde shipyard owner. Yarrows, Lithgows??

subrosa said...

That is interesting Strathturret. It doesn't mention the founder on the website but it does mention it started in 1973 and changed hands in the 80s.

Apogee said...

Travelled with Western Ferries a few times in the seventies. Good service then and seems it still is.


subrosa said...

Seems a good service with 4 boats an hour at peak times.

Strathturret said...

Yes best way to get to Dunoon.

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