Let’s not repeat costly Brodick mistakes

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The new Arran Ferry Action Group are determined to prevent a repetition at Ardrossan of the costly mistakes made at Brodick in the redevelopment of the harbour.

As a result the group wrote to all interested parties asking for evidence of improved resilience following the proposed works, but the response has been extremely disappointing.

In a report to the latest committee meeting of the group held on July 2 it was reported: ‘CMAL tell us this has nothing to do with them. Peel Ports referred us to the Ardrossan Taskforce chairman, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, who to date has not replied. Transport Scotland have promised to respond in a matter of days. CalMac’s response is evasive. In their letter, which you can read on our website: www.arranferries.scot CalMac cite exemption from FOI of environmental information, Taskforce confidentiality, and prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs as their reasons to refuse to share the information we requested. We are left wondering why everyone is so reluctant to share what should be good news: evidence of imminent improvements to our lifeline service.

‘We are now going to write to the Scottish Information Commissioner contesting CalMac’s decision to withhold this evidence. We will point out that we are not asking for any information that might, for good reason, be commercially confidential.’

In other Arran Ferry Action Group news.

What does he know?

If you have read the recently publicised interview , see separate story, with a long-serving master, you will understand our frustration with a corporate culture of ignoring those best placed to offer practical advice. In an attempt to overcome such complacency, we are thinking of inviting all involved in our ferry provision to a second public meeting later in the year, to give you the opportunity of holding them to account.

Ardrossan Taskforce

One member of our committee, Sharon Shenhav, spent a morning in Irvine with Karen Yeomans, executive director of economy & communities, who is in charge of North Ayrshire Council’s involvement with the Ardrossan harbour development. Sharon discussed with her our request to become a recognised participatory body in the Ardrossan Taskforce. Karen assured Sharon that her ongoing participation would be welcome and responded warmly to a lunch invitation when she next visits Arran in August.

Terminal illness

At the end of May, Sharon wrote a four-page letter to the Transport Minister, cataloging ongoing problems at the Brodick terminal. He forwarded this to Transport Scotland, who have not responded within their 20-day timescale, so Sharon has chased up the Transport Minister, requesting a response. Watch this space.

Staggering statistic

In response to our letter of introduction, CalMac’s managing director, Robbie Drummond has invited us to meet with him to discuss potential improvements to the 99.6 per cent service reliability he claims on the Ardrossan-Brodick route. If only! We are of course going to take up this opportunity to disabuse Mr Drummond of this fairytale and we’re hoping to persuade CMAL and Transport Scotland to join that meeting, at which our naval architect committee member, Sam Bourne, will present his practical proposal to overcome the most serious weather deficiencies of the new pier at Brodick.

Meeting MSPs

In response to our letters of introduction, Jamie Greene MSP has agreed to meet with us on Arran to explore how he might help us. We are extending a similar invitation to Kenneth Gibson MSP and look forward to useful discussions with both gentlemen.

A small concession

Everyone, but especially infirm passengers are fed up with what seems a pointless trek from car to terminal, to ticket booth, back to car to purchase a piece of cardboard and hand it in. John Ford is going to write to Transport Scotland and SPT requesting that measures be taken to reduce this inconvenience. Sally Campbell is chasing up the missing handrail on the terminal stairway.