By Scott Wright

AN Inverclyde businessman has pledged to be “more vocal” on how the area is run amid fresh controversy over the state-owned Ferguson shipyard.

Sandy Easdale, who owns Greenock-based bus firm McGill’s with brother James, promised to be heard more before, during and after the Scottish Election on May 6 after reacting to revelations on the pay awarded to the turnaround director appointed by ministers to run the Port Glasgow-based yard.

Ferguson was nationalised in the autumn of 2019 after a £97 million contract to build two ferries for the west coast network ran drastically over time and budget.

The project was beset by a breakdown in relations between the yard’s former owner, Jim McColl’s Clyde Blowers Capital, and Caledonian Maritime Assets, the public agency that ordered the vessels. The dispute ultimately led to an investigation by MSPs, which branded the process a “catastrophic failure”.

READ MORE: Scott Wright: Can Ferguson recover to play key role in Scottish shipbuilding?

Efforts have been renewed in recent months to get the construction of the ferries back on track, while concerns grow that the cost to the public of building the two vessels could spiral to £250m.

Now it has emerged following a newspaper investigation that turnaround director Tim Hair, a marine engineer drafted in by ministers to spearhead the project, received £791,285 for his work in 2020.

In response, Sandy Easdale said in a letter to Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said: “The people of Inverclyde are sick of this national embarrassment and I am sick of this willingness to throw my hard-earned tax contributions around like confetti. I demand a better level of decision making, appropriate accountability and I have decided I am going to be more vocal in the running of this area that you represent.”

The Easdale brothers had expressed interest in taking over Ferguson in 2014, when it was acquired by Jim McColl’s Clyde Blowers after the yard fell into administration under its previous owner.

A spokesman for Ferguson said: “A benchmarking exercise was conducted as part of the recruitment process to identify market rates. This was especially relevant for the turnaround director. The agreed fee was well within the benchmark and consistent with market rates which reflect the highly specialised nature of a role that requires senior level experience and a solid track record of transforming failing businesses.”

“Tim Hair is an experienced specialist in transformational change with a track record of stabilising companies in difficult situations.”

A spokesman said Sandy Easdale could be interested in bidding again if the terms are right. However, he added that is main concern is that the way the is currently being run.

Write-in: whether the Easdales would bid again for Ferguson