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The chief executive of ferry operator CalMac said on Saturday Scotland’s west coast ferry network was facing major problems due to its aging fleet. The situation has deteriorated so badly that vital services must be prioritized for residents of the Isle of Arran.
The shambles led Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Greene to comment in a tweet: ‘In latest development of Arran’s #ferryfiasco confirmation that it won’t be back in service until at least May 3rd!’
“The replacement has far less capacity and is ‘present and hopeful’ for cars, with food deliveries taking priority.”
“The silence of the local SNP is deafening”.
The comment comes as the ship MV Caledonian Isles has been replaced by the smaller MV Isle of Arran.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Jamie Greene MSP
Gavin Fulton, from Arran Ferry Action Group, said the disruption is making life extremely uncertain for those who depend on the service.
He said: “As of midday yesterday, out of six petrol stations, only one had petrol. The pubs are running out of beer.”
“Most importantly tourism, which is the backbone of Arran’s economy – tourists cannot get bookings on the boat.”
“They don’t know if they show up in Ardrossan so they can get to Arran, and if they get to Arran, they don’t know if they’ll come back.”
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Seaside houses reflecting in the calm waters of Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran
Caladonain MacBrayne ferry the Caledonian Islands sails into Ardrossan harbor
He told BBC Scotland the issues are nothing new for Arran, predating the coronavirus pandemic and the controversy surrounding the construction of ferries in Port Glasgow.
However, he said more and more people were talking about leaving the island, adding that the situation was “intolerable” for people with serious health conditions who have to travel back and forth for appointments at the island. ‘hospital.
Mr Fulton urged the Scottish Government to acquire more vessels to increase the capacity of the CalMac network.
Mr Drummond apologized to customers, adding that the company was doing “absolutely everything” to minimize the impact on islanders.
He said: “I understand this is an extremely difficult time for the Isle of Arran, and again apologize for any disruptions.”
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“But I can assure you that everyone at CalMac really cares. We’re working extremely hard to get the service back to full operation again, and we’re also doing everything we can to minimize the impact in the meantime.”
He added that the amount of money spent on maintenance has increased by 70% over the past five years.
Mr Drummond said: “We are now spending something like £33m on maintenance this year. Five years ago it was just £21m.”
Asked why ships so often face maintenance issues, he said: “We are managing an aging fleet.
“Almost a third of our ships are beyond their normal expected lifeline, so we are doing everything we can to keep our fleet running.”
Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd
“What we need are new ships, and what we urgently need is a long-term plan for replacement ships and ports, and a supply program accelerated that begins to establish a standard fleet that operates in standard ports.”
“It will make a huge difference across our entire network.”
It comes after the Scottish First Minister said it was “regrettable” that a key decision on a contract for two Ferguson Marine ferries had not been recorded correctly.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will learn all the lessons it needs on record keeping and she is willing to appear before a Holyrood committee to discuss the matter.
The Auditor General of Scotland, Stephen Boyle, expressed frustration at not being able to review all the documents relating to the award of the contract, although he said he did not believe Holyrood retained the information.
In the years since the contract was awarded, the Port Glasgow shipyard, Inverclyde, was rescued from administration by the Scottish Government.
The estimated delivery of the ships has been pushed back by five years, with costs rising from £97million to at least £250million.
The two ships, Glen Sannox and the as yet unnamed Hull 802, are now expected to be completed between March and May 2023 and October and December 2023 respectively.
There has been scrutiny as to why the contract was awarded to Ferguson Marine without a full refund guarantee, with a report from Audit Scotland saying there was “insufficient documentary evidence” to explain this.
The Prime Minister was quizzed on the situation at the launch of the local SNP election manifesto in Greenock, near Port Glasgow.
Responding to questions from reporters, she said: “There is clearly a key point in the decision-making that has not been recorded as it should have been.
“It’s unfortunate but there’s no hiding around it.”
Ms Sturgeon said she did not see the auditor general’s session, but she does not believe he accused the government of withholding evidence.
The Prime Minister continued: “It’s unfortunate, I’m not trying to downplay it. But anyone can go to the Scottish Government website and see the huge amount of paperwork and record of decisions regarding this matter.
“The Public Audit Committee will continue to review this, if they ask me to testify I will and will seek to answer any questions they have to the best of my ability.”
The SNP has been contacted for comments.
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This notice was published: 2022-04-23 17:59:00