New business rep sought for ferry committee

Alastair Dobson is stepping down from the ferry committee.

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Isle of Arran Ferry Committee is looking for a new member to look after its business sector.

At their first annual general meeting for three years, held at Orimidale Pavilion on Monday, it was announced the Arran Dairies and Taste of Arran managing director Alastair Dobson is stepping down from the role he has worked tirelessly at for many years.

Chairman Iain Thomson thanked him, in his absence, for his long years of service. ‘I can only thank him for more than 20 years of service on the committee,’ he said.

Nominations are now being sought among the business community to find a replacement.

Mr Thomson also welcomed Councillor Timothy Billings, re-elected as the sole Arran councillor in May, as North Ayrshire Council’s elected representative on the committee.

In his annual report, Mr Thomson said that despite Covid restrictions the ferry committee had held 31 business meetings, mostly remotely, including two extra ordinary general meetings since the last annual general meeting in June 2019.

He said a lot had happened in the last three years including meetings with three transport ministers on multiple occasions during their term in office – with further meetings scheduled.

There were: Paul Wheelhouse, June 2018 – May 2021, Graeme Dey – May 2021 – January 2022 and now Jenny Gilruth. If fact, he said, there had been six transport ministers in the last 10 years.

He said 2020 to 2022 was mainly dominated by Covid control procedures and requirements to protect personal health whist maintain services and customer conveniences.

However, he said the committee during that time had also been involved with Ardrossan Task Force, MV Glen Sannox build delays, Ardrossan development delays and Gourock berth upgrades which he said CalMac now like to call an ‘alternative port’ rather than a ‘port of refuge’.

They had also worked on summer and winter timetable enhancements for the Ardrossan and Lochranza routes and successfully negotiated additional sailings in April, which helped when the MV Caledonian Isles broke down.

Resilience, inconsistent communications, Covid timetables, social distancing, the small freight service, which there was a move to stop, and a site visit to the Port of Troon in April, had all been undertaken by the committee.

Tidal conditions at Claonaig had resulted in 132 sailings being cancelled this year, at a time when CalMac are promoting the service at times of disruption.

‘CMAL don’t appear to think there is a problem but CalMac does and are working on the problem, but 132 sailings lost is just unacceptable.’

At the end of the meeting, Neil Arthur was re-elected the independent traveller representative unopposed.

Just three members of the public attended the 45 minute meeting.

The Isle of Arran Ferry Committee logo.

Alastair Dobson is stepping down from the ferry committee. NO_B25dobson01

The Isle of Arran Ferry Committee logo. NO_B21ferrylogo01