We’re the scapegoat for ferry disruption

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An Arran business say they have been made a scapegoat over the damage caused to the ramp of the MV Caledonian Isles which has caused serious ferry disruption all week.

Travel between Arran and the mainland has been badly disrupted for days after a ‘perfect storm’ saw both first the  Caley Isles and then the MV Isle of Arran needing to go out of service for repairs at the same time.

Murchie Sand and Gravel say they are being blamed for bringing an overweight crane on to the island which caused the damage to the main Arran ferry which is still operating with only her bow ramp.

However, they insist that the huge Liebherr crane brought over to remove the temporary bridge at the roadworks on the Brodick hill did not exceed the weight limit of the ferry.

Indeed it was the third time the crane has been on Arran after in put the temporary metal bridge in place and then moved it from one carriageway to the other. The crane has also been to other Scottish islands by CalMac ferry.

The crane was hired form the 3b crane hire firm in Ayr but Donald Murchie Jnr insisted it was not overweight despite persistent rumours, many of them on social media.

At the company depot in Market Road, Brodick he showed the Banner paperwork showing the crane weighed 41.3 tonnes – well under the 44 tonne limit of the MV Caledonian Isles and even with chains and accessories added the weight was still just 42.3 tonnes.

Donald said: ‘We are upset that we seem to have been made a scapegoat for the damage to the ferry. We are a small family firm operating on a close-knit island. These reports have caused distress to the family and are completely unjustified. We just want to set the record straight.’

A CalMac spokesman said: ‘Investigations into the damage to the MV Caledonian Isles’ ramps, which has resulted in disruption to the Ardrossan-Brodick service, are ongoing and it would be premature and inappropriate to speculate at this stage on the precise cause of this damage.’

There is also some speculation that the limits on commercial vehicles is due to concerns about the repair to the ramp. However, the spokesman added: ‘It is routine practice when operating a reduced service to manage the types of vehicle carried to maximise the space available on the vessel. For example, large vehicles can limit the use of mezzanine decks and also can limit the overall weight carried.

‘The MV Caledonian Isles has the added issue at present of operating single-ended which presents challenges in turning large vehicles, which can then impact on turnaround times. These limits are not connected with the repaired ramp.’