Councillor pushes for year-round ferry service

Councillor Donald Kelly is pushing for a year-round ferry service from Campbeltown to Ayrshire.
Councillor Donald Kelly is pushing for a year-round ferry service from Campbeltown to Ayrshire.

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In light of the consistent A83 road closures caused by landslips at the Rest and Be Thankful, a South Kintyre councillor is pushing for a year-round ferry service from Campbeltown to Ayrshire.

At a meeting earlier this month, Councillor Donald Kelly asked for support from the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands Area (MAKI) Committee in requesting that a reliable and affordable ferry service, capable of carrying freight, be introduced from Campbeltown to the East Ayrshire coast all year round.

He is proposing to raise a petition to garner support from businesses and the public for this idea, as well as going through the due process to gain full council support.

Councillor Kelly told the Courier: ‘Given the ridiculous and totally unacceptable timescales currently being mooted regarding the delivery of a permanent solution to the Rest and Be Thankful debacle, I intend to petition the Scottish Government for a year-round ferry service.

‘This service would require to have the capability to take haulage, be fast, with a good timetable, and have road equivalent tariff (RET) applied to it.

‘I would also like to see a commitment from the Scottish Government to consider awarding at least a five-year contract to the successful operator in order that any service can be properly evaluated.’

Fellow South Kintyre councillor John Armour, who chairs the Campbeltown ferry committee which deals with the current seasonal Campbeltown to Ardrossan service operated by CalMac, agreed to raise the matter of a year-round ferry at the upcoming meeting of the Argyll Ferry Stakeholder Group.

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, CalMac did not operate the summer service this year but, according to the summer 2021 timetable published this week, it is  returning in 2021, from April 29 to September 26. The seasonal service has, at times in the last few years, been plagued by cancellations due to weather and mechanical issues, as well as the redeployment of vessels across CalMac’s routes.

South Kintyre’s third councillor, Rory Colville, who chairs the MAKI committee, recommended that Councillor Kelly bring a motion regarding the matter to the committee’s next meeting in March 2021 and advised that he, in consultation with the vice-chairman, Councillor Donnie MacMillan, and Councillor Kelly, would write directly to CalMac and the Scottish Government expressing the view of the area committee.

Councillor Kelly added: ‘It might not be the solution to all of our problems but I feel, if the ferry is made affordable and viable, it would go some way to addressing many of the issues we are currently experiencing.’