Along with NAC and Patricia Gibson MP, I am completely opposed to changing from Ardrossan to Troon as the mainland harbour from Ayrshire serving Arran.
Not only would it have a negative economic impact on Ardrossan, with job losses from the harbour possibly extending indirectly to other business that benefit from traffic to and from Arran, such as Asda, it makes no sense in serving Arran.
Firstly, there is no difference in terms of weather cancelled sailings. If there was, Troon rather than Gourock would be the port of refuge. And with the sailing distance increased by 50% from 12 to 18 nautical miles, the number of sailings to Arran would fall, hitting ferry capacity and tourist income. Arran's economy grew by a thumping 10% last year. Nothing should be done to jeopardise this.
On 26 September Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for Transport and the islands made it clear at a meeting of the Arran Economic Group attended by myself, Ardrossan and Arran Councillor John Bruce, Karen Yeomans, Executive Director(Economy & Communities) NAC, Arran Community Council, Visit Arran and others that Ardrossan remains the SNP Government's priority.
Unlike Troon Harbour, which does not even have a train station, Ardrossan is best placed to continue the Arran ferry service.
The SNP Government has of course actioned its commitment to improving island ferry services by the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff which led to a huge reduction in ferry rates to and from the Isle of Arran, increased summer sailings, the new £12.3 million MV Catriona which entered service from Lochranza last month, a new £47 million ferry being built at Port Glasgow and of course the £28 million upgrade of the pier, marshalling area and terminal building in Brodick, with the jobs such solid investment provides. This would be largely undone if Ardrossan was no longer the connecting mainland harbour.
In addition, the Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce was set up in February to improve the operation of the harbour through significant investment.
It should be said that harbour operator Peel Ports, which is represented on the Taskforce, has so far not been the most accommodating in terms of negotiating a multi-million pound investment from the SNP Government if an agreement is reached.
I will continue to press this important matter with the Transport Minister, who has made it clear that although all proposals must be considered, Ardrossan Harbour remains the Government's primary focus as mentioned above.
This morning (Monday 24 October) I was on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland to argue why the Arran ferry service should not be moved to Troon.
Please click on the image to listen to the entire segment from 02:43:46 to 02:48:22. You will hear the Director of ABP first, followed by my interview, in which I clearly set out the facts to conclude Ardrossan is the best place to keep the ferry service.