MSP supports year-round ferry call

Councillor Donald Kelly.
Councillor Donald Kelly.

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MSP Jackie Baillie will back the petition for a year-round ferry from Campbeltown to Ardrossan when it comes before the Scottish Parliament petitions committee.

South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly and fellow Argyll First councillor Dougie Philand have already submitted the document to the Scottish Parliament calling for a reliable and affordable ferry service.

They have also requested that fares have road equivalent tariff (RET) applied and it is capable of carrying freight from Kintyre to the East Ayrshire coast.

It was lodged 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.

The full-time ferry request is separate from the seasonal service between Campbeltown and Ardrossan, which CalMac currently operates and was due to resume yesterday (Thursday) after a delay.

Ms Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, told the Courier: ‘It is vitally important to residents and the local economy that a year-round ferry is able to operate.

‘This would make a huge difference to the ongoing problems that we are experiencing with the A83.

‘While I understand that these issues are being addressed, it could be quite a while before they are solved.

‘Another way in and out of Argyll is desperately needed and a year-round ferry from Campbeltown to Ardrossan is a great solution to the connectivity problems in the area.

‘I look forward to backing Argyll First’s petition when the Scottish Parliament petitions committee meets.’

Councillor Kelly said: ‘We are delighted that the long-serving and well-respected MSP Jackie Baillie has agreed to attend the parliamentary petitions committee to speak in support of our petition. It is hoped that other MSPs who represent the area will do likewise.

‘Jackie has been a long-time campaigner in the fight for a permanent solution at the Rest and Be Thankful and recognises the issues we have been facing as a community year-on-year and the potential merits of a full-time ferry link.

‘Before launching the petition we made enquiries with consultants as to the availability of suitable vessels outwith the current CalMac fleet and we are reliably informed that three companies had, at that time, a spare vessel which would meet the needs of the community.

‘On that basis, the petition went ahead and this will be the case we will put forward to the Scottish Government.

‘We must be given the opportunity to try a seven-days-a-week service from Campbeltown to the Scottish mainland, capable of taking both passengers and freight with RET applied to it, even if it has to be subcontracted by CalMac in the short-term.’