Row over CalMac plan to axe freight service

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A proposal to remove the freight van service from CalMac sailings on the Ardrossan to Brodick route has provoked an angry response from businesses on the island.

The decision appears to have been taken without any consultation with users or the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee, who only found out about the move by chance.

The service, operated locally, sees businesses on the island pay CalMac to deliver all manner of goods from Ardrossan in vans which are picked up at Brodick, including essential vehicle parts, electrical parts and plumbing parts, papers, parcels, flowers, and even coffins. The service, which works both ways, is also used for CalMac supplies and carries luggage for passengers, who can’t manage their own.

The ferry committee has lodged a strong protest at both the intention and the process under which this is being progressed. They have also questioned the provision for daily papers etc and for passenger luggage transfer if the freight vans are withdrawn.

A spokesman for the ferry committee said: ‘We have already received messages from businesses who rely on this service, and to help us quantify the serious impact such a decision would have to the island, we ask for anyone who uses this service to get in touch and let us know their views and we will consolidate for submission to CalMac.’

One islander said: ‘What a way to strangle the island even more, many businesses depend on the van for parts being brought over everyday. Shocking news.’

One island garage owner has written to CalMac but is waiting on a reply. He said:  ‘I’m sure you’re more than aware of what an essential and simple service this is and how island life and economy rely on it.

‘Although we do not rely on this on a sailing by sailing basis as I know other businesses and organisations do, we do rely on the fact that we can receive parts within two hours for emergency response vehicles and other customers when situations arise.’

The Banner asked CalMac for a response to the concerns on Monday but failed to receive a reply before going to press.