Arran Banner letters – week 41

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Minister replies

Sir,

This is a reply from the office of the Minister of Transport regarding the two issues I raised at the cabinet meeting held at Lamlash High School in August.  I believe that this information is of importance to island residents and visitors.

Yours,

Sharon Shenhav

Lamlash

Dear Ms Shenhav,

Thank you for your letters of 21 and 28 August  to Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity regarding customer assistance at Brodick ferry terminal and bus timetable alignment on Arran with the ferry timetable. As a member of the Ferries Unit, I have been asked to respond.

I understand you asked Mr Matheson about these issues on 27 August when he attended a public meeting with the Scottish Government’s Cabinet on Arran, and also had a discussion with him afterwards.

I can advise that there is already signage for people requiring assistance at the terminal. CalMac advise that notices are displayed in and around the ticket hall, specifically on the glass of the sliding doors, the notice board and the queue barrier tape. There is also signage on the door where passengers can hand over luggage, advising that passengers requiring assistance can request their luggage be taken onto the vessel on their behalf. Additionally, prior to boarding, announcements are made for any passengers requiring assistance to go to the departure gate for pre-boarding and assistance.

When requested, CalMac staff will accompany and assist passengers with luggage via the passenger access walkway, hold luggage behind the counter and transfer it to the vehicle at the pick-up point. However, as Mr Matheson mentioned at the public meeting, he will discuss where improvements to signage can be made with CalMac Ferries and CMAL, to ensure passengers are aware of these services.

You indicated that the lifts at Brodick terminal are not always available or not of sufficient capacity to cope with the large number of foot passengers. I can advise that the majority of passengers use the stairways, and the lifts have the capacity to carry up to 130 people in five minutes. There have been two instances since opening in March when only one lift was in use due to technical issues. I can advise that lift usage was monitored at the time and communications kept open with both the ferry and buses to ensure no one was left behind.

Regarding connectivity with buses, the timetables for CalMac routes are agreed in consultation with local communities, in this case the Arran Ferry Committee. If the Arran community have any issues regarding the service provided, they should raise them directly with the Ferry Committee, who will share their requests with CalMac.

CalMac advise they are not aware of bus connectivity issues at Brodick being raised at the Arran Ferry Committee, or at the regional Ferry Stakeholder Groups that the Arran Ferry Committee and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) are represented at. However, if you have any concerns then you should raise them with the Arran Ferry Committee, and these will be progressed through the usual channels.

CalMac have intimated that communication between ferry staff and Stagecoach staff is excellent at vessel boarding and alighting times. CalMac staff often liase with drivers ahead of arrivals regarding the numbers of passengers expected, and the Stagecoach controller will often, if busy, check with CalMac staff in the terminal to ensure passengers wishing to travel by bus have not been left behind.

I hope that you find this information helpful.

Yours,

Alan McCabe,

Ferries Unit,

Transport Scotland.

Ferry chaos

Sir,

Readers of the Arran Banner will have noticed that our ferries are in somewhat of a chaotic situation. Not only are we dealing a flurry of delays and disruptions, but we’re now seeing the construction of the new vessel, the MV Glen Sannox, suffering a similar fate. Cost overruns of £25 million and a secretive £45 million loan from the Scottish Government have raised some eyebrows.

We were told the loan was for business diversification but later found out it was so Ferguson Marine could complete the contract. Now Ferguson want to take CMAL to court over the whole charade. Arran needed a new ferry but instead all we got was a government falling into crisis and a year-long delay to a ferry which will cost the taxpayer over £100 million. Island residents deserve better than we’re getting from Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon.

Yours,

Jamie Green MSP,

West Scotland.

Pirnmill memorial

Sir,

Our thanks to Christine Black for putting the record straight relevant to the funding for the WW1 memorial, in last week’s Banner letters. Quite right.

However, lest we forget, we need to express our thanks to the Arran groundworks team of North Ayrshire Council led by Mr Stevie Bunyan. At a time when budgets are cut and money is tight Mr Bunyan was quick to support the self help and enthusiasm that was evident for the whole project and was able to encourage and provide substantial assistance with the rejuvenation of the original memorial garden, raised area and newly developed garden to the rear. An excellent example of community and council working together.

It can honestly be said that without the help of the groundworks team the gardens would not look as they do. On the basis that ‘mony a mickle maks a muckle’ contributors large and small, practical and financial have enabled a very successful outcome to compliment Fiona Laing’s vision. Of course all gardens require tending and to this end Mr Bunyan of NAC has already indicated a willingness to do what he can for the spring of next year.

What a wonderful dedication service, thanks to all the varied efforts and contributions to ensure the remembrance of those eight local men, lest we forget.

Yours,

Susan Furzer,

Pirnmill.

Rare kindness

Sir,

I am writing to you to express my gratitude to the woman who found the car keys which had fallen from my pocket on Blackwaterfoot beach. I do not know her identity, for she handed the keys in at the clubhouse before leaving me a waterproofed message on my windscreen, but I do know that such exceptional thoughtfulness and kindness is very rare. So I should like to thank her and the staff at the Kinloch who could not have been more considerate and helpful.

Yours,

Rob Lapsley,

Brodick.