Earlier today, Arran’s MSP Kenneth Gibson and his colleagues Dr Alasdair Allan and Jenni Minto, who represent the Western Isles and Argyll and Bute respectively, had a constructive meeting with new Ferries Minister Graeme Dey MSP.
Mr Dey was appointed only last Thursday but has already had numerous meetings with stakeholders. He said:
“I am keen to hear directly about the specific issues and challenges faced by islanders at what is a particularly difficult time. Social distancing has greatly reduced ferry capacity and the breakdown of the MV Loch Seaforth and bad weather have exacerbated an already difficult situation.
“My MSP colleagues have understandably been inundated by irate constituents and sought this early meeting. I believe they took confidence from my understanding of the difficulties being endured and take such matters very seriously.
“In relation to short term issues, we are actively exploring opportunities for chartering additional tonnage, including consideration of the suitability of the MV Pentalina and looking at other credible, affordable and viable options to improve resilience.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“The Minister recognises communities’ frustration at the current disruption and the impact it is having. He pledged to do everything possible to support CalMac to maximise available capacity across the network and ensure the timely resolution of these ongoing issues.
“Arran Ferry Action Group has written to the Scottish Government urging investment of £500 million on ferries over the next 5-10 years. Scottish Ministers will go beyond that.
“Working with CMAL, CalMac, the three island MSPs, community representatives, the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee and others, Mr Dey will deliver major vessel and small vessel replacement to support Arran, Cumbrae and our other island communities.
“At least £580 million will be invested over the next five years, on top of resources already committed to the completion of the Glen Sannox and its sister ship at Port Glasgow.”