In case anyone lands on this page without getting the gist of this website's purpose - it is to help a friend who has recently become disabled; to illustrate that there can be good and meaningful life beyond health setbacks such as the one that now afflicts her. If others stumble upon these words and derive comfort that ways can be found to navigate around health issues that may beset any one of us then, it will have been worthwhile writing this. There are often just a few seconds of time between being able bodied and disabled. But a lifetime of adjustment thereafter. Though it can be done. Better still is the enigma that becoming disabled can, in fact, unlock abilities that you never knew were there. In my own case after being fit and able with a physically demanding job, injury and spinal surgery has meant a weird mix of working upright, - say at a computer keyboard - and then needing to either scoff a handful of painkillers, or alternatively lay down for an hour's respite. The latter choice is good for the liver-function-tests and has the ancillary benefit in helping think carefully on how to work through problems. For many able bodied folk, life is all rush and fast pace. Thinking time is often dismissed or overlooked. Yet it can be very important and yield significant results.
Unique Property Manual (c) 2012 Russ McLean
Does exactly what it says on the cover. Copies can be bought by utilising the following link..
As far as this page goes, my own fluctuating disability that needs occasional horizontal cogitation time has resulted in some books occurring. I am certain these wouldn't have happened were it not for embracing the disability induced thinking time. The words contained in these publications may indeed mangle the grammar and torture the syntax, but I know from feedback that they have proven useful. One of the most enjoyable "accidents" has been, during a ten year span, of creating over 100 new jobs. So to my friend, I know you have it in you. Give the old word processor a try. Think about writing. I would like to read your own works one day. For now, in the immortal words of Blue Peter - here are some that I prepared earlier...
CalMac Ferries, Competition & Islanders (c) 2010 Russ McLean
Submission to the Scottish Government Ferry Review Consultation.
A detailed analysis from the perspective of islanders – 300 of whom were surveyed, along with forensic examination of the monopoly lifeline ferry provider in comparison to island based ferry services. This publication contained the prophetic words that if CalMac failed to evolve, then it would face extinction. Within 2 years, the CalMac subsidiary lost it’s Northern Isles routes: Click Here. Major concerns now exist for the remaining routes: Click Here.
There is a serious problems in the ferry services supplied to islanders and peninsulas which CalMac hold monopoly on. Without doubt CalMac is an important Scottish institution. However, islanders are all too often overlooked or at worst ignored when it comes to services they rely on. The issue of ferry services is emotive, not least because of the jobs that the company provides. All too often the subject has been characterised as CalMac-good, private-companies-bad. Yet island based companies such as Pentland Ferries provide new ships at NO capital/construction cost to the taxpayer. Pentland Ferries also run lifeline ferry services at NO annual subsidy from the taxpayer. Whereas Northlink’s ships cost an eye watering £98,000,000*. The taxpayer did NOT have to pay for this. Neither should the taxpayer have to pay the £45,700,000 – £63,000,000 in operating subsidy for these massive ships: Click Here.
Having been a lifelong ferry customer – not to mention a member of the rare club of ex-CalMac ferry owners (Andrew Banks at Pentland Ferries being the other member in the U.K.), A new book aimed at addressing some of these problems – and also presenting evidence led solutions is coming soon: CalMac Enigma – Will This Iconic Ferry Firm Survive?
The CalMac Enigma: Fair Ferries For Scotland (c) Russ McLean
In 2010 the CalMac Ferries, Competition & Islanders publication correctly predicted CalMac would start to lose ferry subsidy and routes. Two years later, this forecast was proven to be true when CalMac sister company Northlink lost the Orkney & Shetland ferry services (click here).
The new book…
…makes an up to date prediction:
CalMac will go out of business within the next ten years or so*.
* Depending on ferry tender extensions etc.
Unless there is a collegiate approach putting islanders and ferry users first, rather than submitting to powerful lobby groups CalMac will be in terminal decline.
IF CALMAC CEASE TO EXIST, THAT WOULD BE A VERY BAD THING TO HAPPEN.
The evidence in this book is clear. Without government managing a fair and well thought out restructuring of the Scottish ferry network, CalMac west coast routes will go the way of the old CalMac/Northlink ferries. Extinct. With CalMac, in an ironic way, change can be a good thing. The proposals in CalMac Enigma narrate a way to preserve the best of CalMac, and save half a billion pounds of the Scottish Government budget, whilst providing fair and improved ferry services.
The current situation in Scottish ferries, with one billion pounds of Scottish government money being avoidably squandered is untenable. ALL CalMac ferry routes make a loss and those people who use the word “cherrypicking” in a pejorative sense when relating to route-by-route “unbundled” tendering are either ill-informed, misguided, ignorant, or dissembling. The book CalMac Enigma draws on real life experience and fact based detail, including EU infraction proceedings of 2005/2006 and interaction with the then Scottish Executive – owners of CalMac. With more than a little paradox, CalMac Enigma maps out a path of how this iconic ferry company can be saved from extinction, reconciling another enigma:-
“Islanders have it in their DNA to complain about CalMac, but threaten the iconic ferry service and those self-same islanders defend CalMac to the hilt”.
It is possible to improve Scottish ferry services: longer ferry-day operation, greater frequency, lower fares – remarkably so, with the offer of free ferry travel click here. Whilst also preserving jobs, maintaining conditions of service and importantly in this financially dire times, to save the taxpayer from the relentless newbuild ship costs: MV Seaforth at £42,000,000 paid for by hard pressed government funds, compared to the £8,000,000 MV Pentalina.The latter received no public funding. Furthermore, operating subsidy when none should apply to certain routes is an issue that requires to be addressed. Ignoring this or brushing it aside will result in the demise of CalMac. Just study the history and evolution of Pentland Ferries. A similar case goes for Western Ferries on the Clyde. They too pay for their ships at NO cost to the taxpayer. Of crucial importance, neither private ferry company receives an operating subsidy. What do islander originated private ferry companies result in? An illuminating example – Western Ferries retains over 90% of vehicular traffic – with CalMac/Argyll Ferries a bit of a camel syndrome.
Accidental Success: The Real Dragons’ Den (c) 2012 Russ McLean
Contemporaneous book to go with the Scots Lion – Real Dragons’ Den website.
A narrative of how an accidental remark at a public meeting one bitterly cold January night, where 600 local people cared enough about their community to attend, resulted in a challenge to a local government quango. The result? The local enterprise agency failed to engage. However, independently from that and as a result of the public meeting, plus a lot of hard work by many decent friends and colleagues, we managed to re-open 18 closed buildings and create over 100 jobs. As a postscript projects 19 and 20 have yielded another 6 new jobs, and this work is being continued.
Creditcure: Curing The Credit Hangover (c) 2008 Russ McLean
Contemporaneous book to go with the Money Advice Project website.
In the 1990’s after the suicide of a friend through debt problems, we established a registered charity. The demand for help soon outstripped our resources, so a DIY Debt Survival Manual was written to help our clients navigate their way out of debt problems.
After the recession of the 1990’s ended and early into the next decade, we thought our debt-advice charity would no longer be needed. In 2007 we de-registered the charity and made the voluntary association dormant. Then came an even bigger recession in 2008. Time to dust off the old manuscript and make this DIY debt survival manual fit for the next round of austerity.
Curing The Credit Hangover: DIY Debt Survival Manual (c) 1997 Russ McLean
Contemporaneous book to go with Creditcure Debt Advice Charity. This charity ran from 25th March 1997 to 5th December 2007. Given the global economic meltdown in 2008 and beyond, we are looking into bringing the charity back to life.
Next section of this website is under construction
Notes For Cross Reference On New Website
*MV Hamnavoe built 2001 & cost £28,000,000; MV Hjatland built 2001 & cost £35,000,000; MV Hrossey built 2001 & cost £35,000,000. Total £98,000,000. All paid by the 2001 Scottish Executive a.k.a. the taxpayer.
MV Hrossey during her 2007 refit.
Photograph Copyright of Sandy Cooper
MV Hrossey during her 2007 refit.
Photograph Copyright of Sandy Cooper