Recent agendas and minutes on SPT’s website shed new light on the authority’s views on local ferries and their future.
Villagers in Cove and Kilcreggan have heard nothing from SPT since an official attended a public meeting in their burgh hall a few years ago; he listened patiently to suggestions such as later ferries to help commuters coming home in the evening – and appeared to do nothing as a result.
So residents might be surprised to read that members of the operations committee in March commended offficals for ‘their open consultation with the communities involved’.rtp300312_agenda5(b)
Any evidence of this consultation would be very interesting; it is alleged that talks about the contract have been ongoing for nearly 12 months, but there have been no reports locally of any consultation. Many people wrote to SPT with questions and complaints, but just received a generic ‘Q&A’ document.
Meanwhile, SPT’s strategy and programmes committee on March 23 considered a draft response to the Scottish Ferries Review, which is being led by the Scottish Government. Programmes and strategy agenda
This report acknowledges ‘significant cost escalation’ in the ferry sector including fuel price increases – a factor which was not mentioned in committee reports describing the circumstances when Clyde Marine’s initial tender to retain the Kilcreggan contract was rejected as too expensive.
It goes on to suggest that the Gourock-Kilcreggan service should be part of a ‘bundle’ of services under a ‘Clyde & Hebrides Ferry Services’ tendering arrangement.
But officials insist that this contract should require use of SPT smartcards at ticket offices, ports and on vessels.
The report concludes by calling for ‘greater transparency and availability of information on the performance, costs and future investment programme for ferry services to help ensure best value in decision making’ – this echoes very closely the demands made of SPT itself by MSPs, Argyll and Bute councillors, community councillors and commuters,.