I NOTE your report on the latest state of the ferries crisis ("Documents reveal Scotland’s ferries crisis will cost a ‘quite staggering’ £1.5bn to resolve", June 12).

An immediate improvement would result from the purchase of the Pentalina from Pentland Ferries, this at a very modest price of £5-7m. Given the average age of the Calmac fleet, the suggestion that a vessel launched 14 years ago is too old is risible. The Pentalina is eminently suitable for either the Arran or Mull runs, both crossings of under one hour. She carries some 14 crew but without crew accommodation and a large catering staff, which are not required on such short runs. With two shifts of shore-based crews, a service of 18 hours per day could be achieved similar to that provided by Western Ferries in Dunoon. With crew costs per crossing being halved, fuel costs reduced by some two-thirds and frequency being doubled, the service could be vastly improved at reduced cost.

Building ever-larger vessels requiring consequent huge infrastructure costs is not the answer. The harbours do not become any larger and, while these large vessels can make the passage in most weathers, berthing safely is another matter. The manoeuverability of catamarans enables Pentland Ferries to operate a profit-making service in the worst stretch of water in the British Isles with minimal weather-related disruption.

Secondly, is there a contingency plan should the Glen Sannox and Hull 802 be further delayed, or perhaps, as has been suggested, not be completed or not accepted by CMAL? Given the long delays, most, if not all, equipment warranties will be time-expired, leading to increased costs and/or reduced reliability. If CMAL sought to decline acceptance it is likely that the Scottish Government, in order to save face, would force acceptance just as it forced the ordering of the FMEL vessels without guarantees.

Thirdly, it need not take until 2030 to solve this problem. The usual lead time for the supply of a bespoke CMAL-commissioned vessel is some five to six years. Pentland Ferries' 98-car catamaran Alfred was delivered in some 18 months from order at a cost of some £17m, perhaps £20m today, because these designs already exist. How many Alfreds for £500m? A change in policy could see the problem solved in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

There are so many questions to be pursued. Why does the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland give CMAL so much latitude to pursue grandiose and costly plans? Why did the Ferry Advisory Committee not meet for some two and an half years before being disbanded? Was the advice given not to the taste of Transport Scotland and CMAL? The inquiry of more than two years ago described CMAL as not fit for purpose and questioned its relevance. At the end of the day, this is about the husbandry of taxpayers’ money and that husbandry has been profligate.

J Patrick Maclean, Oban.


WITH the seemingly never-ending failures of Ferguson Marine, Calmac, CMAL, Caledonian MacBrayne and the "arms' length owner", the Scottish Government, is it not time to reflect and recover some of Scotland's once-proud shipbuilding reputation?

Instead of spending any more dosh on the two hulks at the Port Glasgow yard, send them to the scrapyard and recover some cash. On second thoughts, salvage anything worth saving off the boats: two engines out of warranty, more than a few short lengths of copper cabling and more. Then drag the hulks out into the middle of the Clyde, and plonk them upright, Antony Gormley-style, beside the MV Captayanis, aka the Sugar Boat, all to show that common sense finally prevailed in stopping wasting any more funding on them, and as a reminder of one of the SNP follies during its term in office.

Take back the £20 million allocated for the next "once in a lifetime referendum" fund, donate £500,000 towards the yearly running costs of PS Waverly, £500,000 towards the works and running of the PS Maid of the Loch (both built a the AJ Inglis yard) and a further £500,00 towards the works and running costs of the SS Sir Walter Scott (built by Denny in Dumbarton. The remaining £18.5m, and any further gains, can be given to the NHS.

George Dale, Beith.


NICOLA Sturgeon's raison d'etre for her "indisputable mandate" is the result of the 2021 Holyrood election. She forgets that she failed to get a majority of MSPs and was forced to take on the Greens, with all their baggage, to get her desired result. She is now using this as her primary weapon to force anther independence referendum.

There is a massive flaw in her argument. Holyrood did not elect a single Green MSP by first past the post and to compound this, the pro-Union parties won 32 per cent of the vote share, the SNP and Greens 31% and a massive 37% of the electorate did not vote at all. Given this, plus the fact that of those who didn't vote it can be reasonably surmised that many are pro-Union given the turnout and voting in 2014, then Ms Sturgeon's main claim of a democratic majority falls at the very first hurdle.

The Supreme Court need not get involved. It is over already.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


I NOTE with interest and disgust that despite massive cutbacks in every sector of Scotland's economy and society, the SNP is spending £20 million on a new independence campaign.

This is such a waste of money. This £20m could be better spent on such things as education, providing school books, pencils, musical instruments and teachers – or new ferries that are not over budget or lie in dry dock because they cannot function due to yet more wasted money.

The SNP grumbles that Scotland has a huge deficit. It does. It is not, however how much the SNP complains, Westminster's fault. How can it say this when it has been in power for more than 14 years and the situation is still the same? It does not make sense.

Just think what the train workers and teachers and police and council workers and anyone you think of could do with £20m.

Valerie Stewart, East Kilbride.


ANDY Maciver is entirely correct on his gloomy prognosis for the Scottish Tories if they do not form a new political party, separate from the English Tories – just as the Welsh Tory party is reported to be planning ("Douglas Ross’s only option is to create a new party", June 12). The Scottish Tories are judged not just on the poor conduct of Westminster governance, but also their policy (muscular unionism) of distant London ministers overriding Holyrood.

Where I disagree with Mr Maciver is with his assertion that no other Holyrood parties would “work with the Tories, far less prop up a Tory government”. We can already see in local government a putative British nationalist coalescence (Labour, Tories and LibDems). I have no doubt that these parties would form a Red/Blue/Yellow coalition government if they could somehow garnish enough elected members. But without distancing themselves from drag anchors like Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer, the dial looks stuck.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


THE employment of the mantra of modernisation is beguiling to an audience entranced by the hope of improvement in its future economic prospects.

It carries much the same traction as the reference to the sunny uplands by the PM to paint a picture of a rosier future. But lurking beneath those two siren songs are hidden dangers threatening the welfare and economic prospects of the workers.

The narrative of the sunny uplands is now biting back in that getting Brexit done has traded our commercial relationships with the single market, where we once enjoyed preferential treatment, for the uncertainties of trying to find contracts with alternative partners to plug the gaps left by jumping ship from the EU.

Modernisation generally leads to more mechanisation and the downsizing of the workforce. That is very often accompanied by the wider introduction of light regulation, creating a ballooning of temporary contracts and a decline in job security.

We are witnessing those two developments in the Brexit deficit and the impasse between the railway companies and their workforces.

It is no wonder that we are nostalgically pining for what we had.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


ON reading the Spotlight article on the Rolling Stones' current tour ("Stones offer certainty in a world of chaos", June 12), I was disappointed and surprised at the lack of mention of their new drummer. He featured in the photograph but that appeared to be the extent of your acknowledgement of his existence.

I read the article a couple of times just in case I had missed a mention, but no. I would have thought that getting the role as the Rolling Stones' new drummer, replacing the legendary Charlie Watts, would at least be worthy of a line or two but not even a name check. Why?

Gail Herrigan, Glasgow.


IN the heated debate over climate change nobody mentions the elephant in the room. Today the world population is eight billion. One hundred years ago it was 1.9bn. Then three billion in 1960 and 6.1bn in 2000. By 2050 it could be 9.8bn and 11.2bn by 2100. Politicians spending trillions of pounds trying to cut greenhouse gas emissions whilst the population escalates is akin to trying to empty a bath with a teaspoon while the tap is still running.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.