Support grows for ‘lifeline’ ferry status

Calls to class the Gourock to Kilcreggan ferry as a lifeline service have been backed by community councillors.

The move by MSP Jackie Baillie – revealed here – came because the Scottish Government said it would consider taking on responsibility for all lifeline routes.

The Dumbarton MSP urged her constituents to support the campaign for lifeline status, and this was backed unanimously by Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council tonight (Tuesday).

Chairman Nick Davies will write to Transport Scotland asking for the route to be classed as a lifeline – he told the meeting that the Gourock to Dunoon ferry service already had this status.

Cllr Robert MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute Council’s representative on Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which subsidises the service, said Transport Scotland had told SPT that they were not interested in taking it on.

But a letter from Transport Scotland to Cardwell Bay and Greenock West Community Council this March seemed to indicate the opposite.

And SPT’s own response to the ferry services consultation stated: “It may be appropriate for consideration to be given to incorporating the Gourock – Kilcreggan service as part of a “bundle” of services under the auspices of Clyde & Hebridean Ferry Services (CHFS) tendering to achieve optimal value for money.”

Argyll and Bute said in its response to the Scottish Government’s draft ferries plan last year that SPT did not have the expertise to run the ferry and that it should be classed as a lifeline, adding : “The Kilcreggan – Gourock – Helensburgh ferry is a ‘lifeline’ link that merits greater mention in the Scottish Ferries Draft Plan. There are considerable concerns as to the future of this ferry service.

“This is an open estuary crossing requiring oversight by a body with maritime expertise, and should therefore be treated the same as other ferry links and administered by the Scottish Government.”

Cllr MacIntyre was optimistic about the chances of SPT’s operations committee supporting an additional ferry sailing on Sunday mornings, despite an officers’ recommendation against this.

He said he had suggested a sailing at 10.30, rather than 10am, and that SPT’s bus services manager Alex Scott was ‘fairly confident’ this could go ahead, adding that the council and SPT had agreed to advertise the ferry service.

Community councillor John Auld suggested the ferry route could be designated a core path to give it protection until it was given lifeline status, adding that the service was very important in bringing visitors to Kilcreggan at weekends.

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