Demand for action over loss of vital daily sailings

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Only one in three of the vital 7am daily sailings from Ardrossan to Brodick operated during December, which severely limits delivery of goods and services, impacting widely on our island community.

Now the Arran Ferry Committee has told CalMac that unless it gets assurances of a better service it will need to revisit the possible reversal of the timetable.

It also wants to know why Gourock has not been more frequently utilised as a port of refuge.

The committee met on Monday to review the recent incidents and the unacceptable level of cancellations.

The recent national press and social media speculation was discussed but claims of fuel shortages could not be confirmed with one outlet confirming several thousands of litres of stock.

CalMac is currently operating a temporary timetable and the MV Hebridean Isles is servicing the Ardrossan to Brodick route while the MV Caledonian Isles undergoes her annual refit.

Covid has added further to the seasonal weather-related interruptions. Procedures for isolation and cleaning were discussed with suggestions made to reduce the time to get the vessel back in service.

AFC will continue to question the decision-making process which leads to weather cancellations which do not appear to be consistent with forecast information whilst recognising that the skippers’ decisions will not compromise safety.

Some examples of inconsistencies were provided which need explanation to avoid further damage to customers’ confidence in using the service.

The disruptions mean travel for island residents is also being severely compromised if attempting to attend appointments on the mainland and the transfer of medical samples and test results are also delayed.

The initial work at Ardrossan to repair fenders is progressing which will help but there is disappointment that there has been no more progress on plans for the refurbishment at the port.

The need for community engagement on timetables and plans for the service when it temporarily has to move to Troon were also highlighted.

Communications to customers was another matter which was highlighted as unacceptable and required further work from the operator.

This was particularly relevant when service was interrupted at short notice and greater consideration needed to be given to foot passengers.

In every discussion the frustration at the delay in introducing improvements was voiced.

The front-line staff are doing everything they can to provide a service under difficult circumstances and have ensured food and supplies are delivered but senior management need to support them and provide resources required.