Full-time ferry call backed by council

Councillor Donald Kelly.
Councillor Donald Kelly.

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Calls for a full-time ferry link between Campbeltown and the Ayrshire coast have been backed by Argyll and Bute Council.

At a full meeting of the council last Thursday, it was unanimously agreed to support a petition submitted to the Scottish Parliament by South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly and fellow Argyll First councillor Dougie Philand, calling for a year-round freight and passenger ferry service from Campbeltown to Ardrossan.

The petition was submitted in response to the consistent A83 road closures caused by landslips at the Rest and Be Thankful, and the suggested 10-year timescale for a permanent solution, although Councillors Kelly and Philand say it should not be considered as an alternative or compromise to a permanent solution to the issues at the Rest.

After the council meeting, Councillor Kelly told the Courier: ‘I am delighted that the petition now has the backing of the full council along with MSPs from across the political spectrum, some of whom have indicated that they will speak in favour of the petition after the election.

‘The next stage of the process will be when we are be called to give evidence to the committee.

‘The capacity of CalMac to provide suitable vessels within its existing fleet seems to be a problem. With this in mind, we have spoken to reliable and credible ferry consultants who have informed us that there are currently vessels outwith CalMac which could be procured and meet the requirements of the service.

‘Whilst appreciating that a full evaluation of any service would require to be carried out, we would hope that this will be looked at favourably.’

In their latest submission to the Scottish Parliament in relation to the petition, Councillors Kelly and Philand wrote: ‘Despite the various mitigation measures which have been put in place over the past 10 years or so, the situation at the Rest and Be Thankful has continued to deteriorate, culminating in approximately 280 days of disruption during 2020-2021.

‘With the current projected unacceptable timescale for a permanent solution to be put in place, the only way to provide an alternative connection to the Scottish mainland for the long-suffering communities of Argyll and Bute is to consider providing a full-time ferry service capable of taking passengers and freight with RET [road equivalent tariff] applied to it from Campbeltown to the Scottish mainland.

‘Having submitted two previous petitions to the committee requesting a permanent solution to the Rest and Be Thankful, we respectfully request that you consider this petition which has the full backing of Argyll and Bute Council, our MP and a number of MSPs across the political spectrum favourably.’