SPT have been given a blunt warning that Clydelink will be unable to provide a ferry service between Gourock and Kilcreggan as required.
Councillor George Freeman has urged SPT chief executive Gordon Maclennan to extend the contract with Clyde Marine, saying he is certain that otherwise no ferry will run from April 1.
“The information I now have from a number of social media contacts and others is that the Island Princes is still down south and does not even have the appropriate certification to allow it to sail north to the Clyde,” he said.
“Although work is ongoing to try and secure such certification, it is my view that even if that certification is secured without further delay, the Island Princess cannot be on the Clyde and available for survey before early next week.”
He pointed out that even when the Island Princess arrives on the Clyde, it will still have to go through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Greenock certification process before it can operate on the Gourock – Kilcreggan route.
This process normally takes up to three weeks but can take longer, he warned.
Clydelink’s ‘Plan A’ was a new-build boat – this now seems to have been abandoned.
Plan B was apparently to use a vessel currently based in Oban, but this would still have to travel to the Clyde and go through the MCA certification process and Cllr Freeman says this is not possible in the timescale
Clydelink Plan C was to use two RIBs to transport passengers back and forward across the Clyde.
“I do not believe that such a proposal was ever realistic and that the risks associated with such a proposal are insurmountable and would not have secured approval from MCA Greenock,” he said
“It is clear that unless SPT act now to extend the current contract, so as to allow Clyde Marine to continue operating the Seabus on this route for a period beyond 1 April 2012, then there will be no service available to the public as from that date.
“It is clear to me that Clydelink has failed to comply with the terms of the contract and as such, SPT should now cancel that contract and carry out a retendering exercise without any further delay. It is also clear that SPT must shoulder much of the responsibility for the situation that we now find ourselves in and I believe that any subsequent investigation into this matter will agree with my view.
“Many of my constituents have demanded an investigation into this matter. I fully support that call and will be requesting an investigation into this matter from the appropriate authorities in due course. A reply without further delay is essential if my constituents and others are going to be given the reassurance that they require with regards to this service.”