On Friday night (15 July 2011) I was pleased to attend a function hosted by Stornoway Port Authority where its Chief Executive, Jane Maciver, gave a very interesting presentation on where the Port Authority envisaged activities within the port developing over the next ten years. I found it both ambitious and exciting and I particularly liked the emphasis on getting things done and moving forward to recognise the new opportunities that were there for the port.
A number of issues were discussed, including: the need for more and better leisure facilities; the need for recognising the future needs of the offshore renewable industry; the need for providing significant onshore back-up facilities and providing employment; and the brilliant idea of connecting the harbour with a new bridge up into the woodland centre thus facilitating any new uses of the castle. All these are things I would very much endorse as I’m sure the Comhairle themselves would.
I would also like to congratulate the Port Authority on their emphasis on working in partnership, taking advantage of opportunities and getting things done. Their recognition of the need to continue to facilitate the best possible ferry links and the fact we would hope to have a new vessel here in 2013 in addition to the Isle of Lewis, makes for some very exciting times.
The ability to manage and develop harbours is a is a particular skill and we should look at how to take advantage of these skills across our islands. It is encouraging to see the proposed new developments in South Uist through Storas Uibhist but there is also still a crying need for extra capacity i.e. Lochmaddy. The new route from Lochboisdale has been talked about for too long and badly needs opening up, and again to go back to an old chestnut, why the organisation running the ferries to the Western Isles is not based in the Western Isles providing employment and money circulating in the economy, I will never know. Cal-Mac is a prime case for relocation.
All in all, exciting times ahead; I hope we can all work together to achieve the visions set out in the document produced by the Port Authority.