Arran Banner Letters – week 02, 2022

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Script for a farce

Sir,

At the beginning of another year, I would like to wish the first minister Happy New Year but only if she stands up in the Scottish parliament and gives an abject, and sincere, apology for the appalling state of the ferry services to the Western Isles and the Firth of Clyde for which the SNP government is responsible.


In the time since it  ‘took the helm’, the government has presided over a scenario which could be the script for a farce.

Ferry replacements were held up at the same time as RET was introduced – right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.

Then two jumbo ferries were ordered as some sort of vanity project and the government with more vanity gave them to the wrong builder. And here we are in 2022 miles behind 2018 with no prospect of improvement.

Peel Ports is still arguing about costs, and is not to be trusted. Can the big ferry get in and out of Ardrossan – nobody knows. On and on…it’s a mess and the government, and nobody else, is responsible for it. The fleet gets older and breakdowns are frequent, and the Covid situation has not been well managed.


What saddens me most is that, as a result of all this government mismanagement over 15 years, the people who are taking the flack are the CalMac staff in the front line who have no responsibility for it whatsoever. The first minister should be apologising to them as well.

Yours,

John Cruickshank,

Whiting Bay.

 

A fond farewell

As from today (Friday) I will be stepping down from running the Harbour Shop in Blackwaterfoot and will be passing the reins over to a new owner.

It has been a privilege to support my local community for the last 15 years and I would like to thank each and every customer who came into the shop and supported me throughout this time. Without your support and loyalty I would not have been able to operate for so long.

I would like to thank my partners in crime Aileen and Gina whose unwavering support and help to run the shop has been brilliant. I really will miss our daily chats and laughs.

Yours,

Gillian Ingham,

Torbeg.

 

Cash for lights

I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who donated to my garden lights this year.

We set a target of £200 for Alzheimer’s UK and because of your generosity we have a total of £273, which has been sent to the charity.

Once again my thanks to everyone and hopefully look forward to next Christmas.

Yours,

Bernie Jackson,

Whiting Bay

 

Arran is watching and waiting

Sir,

Arran Ferry Action Group has received a response to the questions asked regarding the Ardrossan harbour development project that were submitted to the Ferries Infrastructure project manager at Transport Scotland, highlighted by the Banner in the December 10, 2021 issue.

The response is issued from the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee, following recent direction from Transport Minister Graeme Dey MSP and Transport Scotland that all community correspondence should be routed to this group from now on.

Arran Ferry Action Group has been excluded from the Ardrossan Harbour Task Force meetings, despite being named as a stakeholder by the first minister in December.

The document is somewhat limited in the answers it provides. The fundamental question of when this development will commence is still unanswered.

This is still totally dependent on agreement being reached between Transport Scotland and the owners of the port, Peel Ports Group Ltd.

This is believed to relate to the division of costs between the two parties, and therefore the share of cost to the taxpayer through Transport Scotland. The project is estimated to be 18 months or more of work.

Some answers are becoming clearer, although they are still shrouded in a little Ayrshire fog.

The service will divert to Troon – irrespective of if the works commence or not – upon the long-delayed Hull 801/MV Glen Sannox entering service.

This is currently expected to be in autumn 2022, only 10 months away now. There are significant risks of further delay with this delivery schedule and we wait for more updates from Ferguson Marine with keen interest.

The works at Troon are well advanced and on schedule for completion by summer 2022. We hope to hear more on these details soon.

There is no details yet of the timetable impact or the service frequency that will be provided.

This is a key part of information that the Isle of Arran needs to know in order to plan for what is coming.

The structure of the task force still appears extremely confused, with no substantial changes carried out from the recommendations of its own project management review in April 2019.

Items such as ‘clearly defined roles and responsibilities’, a ‘clear command structure to a single-named project manager’ and ‘improved community communication’ appear to still be on the ‘significant and urgent’ list. The lack of recent attendance by our constituency MSP is also notable.

There are many areas where public consultation is promised, like the development of the landside infrastructure such as the terminal building and the proposed timetable.

These are promised for early 2022. There are other areas where it is specifically excluded, such as the temporary facilities and connectivity at Troon.

Arran Ferry Action Group hopes that these consultations are indeed real exercises in engaging with the community that can influence the final decisions.

The clock is ticking loudly, and if a start date of Autumn 2022 is to be met, all of these elements will need to be progressed very rapidly.

Any further delay will push the return of the service to a renewed Ardrossan in a new vessel past the current target of spring 2024.

The Isle of Arran is watching, and waiting.

Yours,

Sam Bourne, chairman, 

Arran Ferry Action Committee.