Ferry petition closed by parliament committee

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A petition calling for a ‘lifeline’ year-round freight and passenger ferry link between Campbeltown and Ardrossan has been closed by the Scottish Parliament.

The decision was made at a meeting of the parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee last Wednesday, December 1, on the basis that construction of new CalMac ferry MV Glen Sannox is expected to be completed between July 25, 2022 and September 25, 2022 and ‘this new vessel provides an opportunity to provide a year-round service, subject to a robust business case and funding’.

The petition was submitted by South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly and fellow Argyll First councillor Dougie Philand 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.

Councillor Kelly previously suggested procuring a vessel from outwith the CalMac fleet to provide the service and was told by Western Ferries managing director Gordon Ross last month that the ferry company ‘would consider any viable commercial possibilities’.

In announcing its decision, the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee added that a full consultation with communities and other stakeholders will be carried out in 2022 as part of the Islands Connectivity Plan, and this will include consideration of all Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services and Northern Isles routes.

Councillor Kelly said: ‘Whilst its disappointing that the Scottish Government does not want to go outwith the CalMac fleet to deliver a service for our community, it is encouraging that external operators are interested in tendering for the service.

‘The petition has certainly focused minds and kept the pressure on the government with the announcement that the year-round service will be evaluated next year.’