Arran councillor wants work delayed at Ardrossan

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An Arran councillor has called for the proposed redevelopment work at Ardrossan harbour to be delayed until a firm committment is made about the deployment of the MV Glen Sannox on the Arran route.

North Ayrshire Conservative councillor Timothy Billings has said it would be ‘folly’ to commit significant amounts of public money to the project at this time.

His comments came at the full meeting last Wednesday’s of North Ayrshire Council where a report was brought forward that outlined the next steps in the development of Ardrossan harbour.

As reported in the Banner earlier this month the works, now costed at up to £25 million by Peel Ports, are expected to start in the spring of 2020. They include the current Arran berth being realigned to accomodate the MV Glen Sannox, still under construction in Port Glasgow.

At the meeting councillor Billings, who represents Ardrossan and Arran, asked if this was the right time to commit public money to work that was made necessary for a boat that may not even come in to service. The reply was that the work could benefit other boats in the CalMac fleet. Cllr Billings proposed that the detailed design work for the harbour reconstruction should continue, but that construction work should wait until there was final agreement on the design of the future Arran ferry.

Cllr Billings stated: ‘There have been too many poor decisions taken relating to this project already. Committing significant sums of public money to the construction of a harbour mainly for the benefit of a ferry that we don’t even know is going to come in to service is folly.’

Mr Billings further proposed that the council confirms that it will not agree to any proposal that allows the Arran ferry service to be harmed whilst any harbour construction is taking place, and that it will properly listen and take account of Arran’s residents views when designing the new terminal facilities at Ardrossan.

Cllr Billings added: ‘It is recognised that Brodick’s new terminal has significant issues with passenger access and service reliability. It is essential that the council takes account of this and we get a terminal at Ardrossan that is truly fit for purpose.’ He went on to say ‘non-residents do not appreciate the difficulties that delays and cancellations make to everyday life on Arran. I wanted the council to have a clear policy statement that included meaningful engagement with Arran’s residents and that  harbour construction didn’t impact on ferry frequency or reliability’.

When Cllr Billings’ proposals were put to a vote seven councillors – six Conservative and one independent – supported him. All the other councillors present dismissed these concerns, including the two SNP councillors who represent Arran and Ardrossan.

Mr Billings stated: ‘It is typical of non-islanders to dismiss the real concerns that Arran’s residents have about their ferry service. Too often passengers’ issues are not taken in to account leading to anger and frustration around how decisions are made. What is particularly disappointing is that my fellow ward councillors, including the one who lives on Arran, could not support my proposals.’