GREEN Minister Lorna Slater was branded a hypocrite tonight after it was revealed a private cruise ship had been hired to take her to an island.
Officials said Ms Slater avoided the £9.40 round trip scheduled service as the private boat would “maximize” her time on the island.
The Scottish Government has declined to disclose the cost of the charter, but locals say it could run into the hundreds of pounds.
This comes amid growing criticism of the Scottish Government’s handling of ferry services. Communities are warning of “complete chaos” as two vital ships are yet to launch with costs and delays mounting.
address the news Scottish Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: “Lorna Slater’s hypocrisy and lack of self-confidence are breathtaking.”
We can reveal that Ms Slater will be taking a privately chartered service from Mallaig to the Isle of Rum to meet with members of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, as well as NatureScot and Scottish Government staff.
And she is set to speak to islanders about the future of Kinloch Castle – having previously been blamed for the collapse of a bid to buy the site.
City financier Jeremy Hosking was planning to buy the castle from NatureScot, but Ms Slater put the sale on hold in November last year.
An official said Ms Slater would arrive by private charter as it would “maximize time on the island and support a small local business”.
Tory Mr Cameron added: “The Greens are constantly lecturing the public about the need to use public transport, but are happy the Scottish Government is chartering a private boat to take them to and from Rum.”
“Your apologies – that the CalMac timeline is fundamentally wrong – will go down like a lead balloon to the Scottish island communities.
“People who rely on Lifeline ferry services don’t have the luxury of hiring a private boat to travel.
“Their deaf indifference to them is another kick in the teeth of the betrayed islanders.”
The The SNP ferry scandal Costs for two new ships – the Glen Sannox and the yet-to-be-named Hull 802 – have skyrocketed, while ongoing delays mean neither will enter service, despite them being “too were let water”.
Spending watchdogs’ latest cost estimates stand at £293million – despite an original forecast of £97million.
Earlier this week, islanders demanded an “emergency” and compensation from Transport Secretary Kevin Stewart after ferry services were suddenly halted.
Members of Mull and Iona’s ferry committee have been warned they could be forced to ‘ration’ space on ships, claiming it would lead to ‘utter chaos’ and leave communities ‘strangled’.
The main ferry serving her islands will be re-deployed to cover the connection to Lochboisdale in South Uist.
The decision by CalMac, which is awaiting the two new ships to be built by Ferguson Marine, will mean 7,000 fewer passengers a day on the boats to Mull and Iona, according to campaigners.
Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie MSP said: “Lorna Slater has been in office for less than two years, but she is already acting like she was born to govern.”
“Just like with Boris Johnson, it’s one rule for her and another for everyone else.”
“She rubs salt in the deep wounds of every islander who has been stuck in ferry chaos for years.”
And a Scottish Labor spokesman said: “That is stunning hypocrisy on the part of Lorna Slater.”
“While island communities face significant disruption to ferry traffic, Lorna Slater charters a private boat.
“The Greens have no contact with working people and are just the little helpers of the SNP. Scotland deserves better.”
Tonight a Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Minister will travel to Rum tomorrow morning.
“She will be traveling with members of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, as well as staff from NatureScot and the Scottish Government, on a charter operated by Western Isle Cruises. This maximizes time on the island and supports a small local business.”
We shared last year how Ms Slater raised eyebrows when she told government officials she didn’t want to work every day at the COP26 climate summit – despite describing it as “our last chance to save planet earth”.
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