Fears are being voiced on Raasay that changes to the small freight delivery service will leave shop shelves empty on the island.
With less than a fortnight’s notice and during the peak tourist season, CalMac had imposed a deadline of Monday 14th August requiring all deliveries to the island to arrive between certain specified time slots – none of which accommodated fresh goods arriving early in the morning before the ferry sails.
Local MSP Kate Forbes raised the situation urgently both with CalMac chief executive Robbie Drummond as well as the transport minister Fiona Hyslop in a bid to find a workable solution.
A proposed new deadline of 11th September has now been agreed, and it is understood that an urgent meeting is being arranged to look at potential options on a way forward.
CalMac has said that the changes are required because the current set-up is not “fully compliant” with regulations for transporting chilled and frozen food freight.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “The community has always been willing to work with CalMac to find a workable solution for all concerned, and unfortunately what was initially being proposed by CalMac was far too short notice and also impractical for the island’s needs.
“I was on Raasay last week, and I was told locally that the first proposal with a hard deadline of 14th August would’ve resulted in empty shelves.
“There are many things CalMac are not in control of, but this self-imposed deadline during the peak summer season which would have caused huge disruption to Raasay was most certainly within their gift to change – and I’m pleased they have scrapped the original deadline to give more time to find a solution.
“I’m not sure if 11th September will be enough time, particularly as suppliers have strict deadlines to ensure all deliveries are made, but it’s certainly a great improvement on 14th August.
“I hope the meeting with CalMac will take place as soon as possible and that a solution that works for Raasay businesses as well as CalMac can be found quickly.”
A CalMac spokeswoman said: “We are meeting local community representatives later this week to discuss options for the delivery of fresh freight to Raasay.”
Article by JACKIE MACKENZIE