Petition to ‘rescue’ Kilcreggan ferry service launched

Call for contract to be terminated and link with Helensburgh to be investigated

A petition calling for the ‘rescue’ of Kilcreggan’s ferry link with Gourock has been launched.

MSP Jackie Baillie has made the move, demanding that Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) cancels Clydelink’s contract and finds another firm to take over the ‘lifeline’ service.

Passengers have been hit by an unprecedented level of disruption since the Clydelink contract was renewed in April this year, with seven separate problems including breakdowns, staff shortages and the MCA impounding the Island Princess.

The petition addressed to the Chair of SPT, Martin Bartos, and the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, outlines three simple demands to improve the ferry service:

  1. SPT must cancel Clydelink’s contract now for failing to meet the terms of service and find a new operator to fulfil the route until the Scottish Government assumes control.
  2. The Scottish Government must honour its promise to take over responsibility for the service and speed up the transfer process between SPT and Transport Scotland.
  3. Local communities should be consulted on the terms of any future contracts to ensure that passengers’ views are fully considered, including the need for a back-up vessel, the potential for reintroducing the service to Helensburgh and making the vessel more accessible.

There is a break clause in Clydelink’s contract in June 2018 and the Dumbarton MSP said that unless action is taken now to secure a replacement operator, the contract could be extended for up to seven years.

Jackie Baillie is urging communities on both sides of the River Clyde to sign the petition and hopes to build a cross-party consensus among local elected representatives.

The petition is available online at www.jackiebaillie.co.uk/save-our-ferry

She said: “After a summer of chaos, local passengers have had enough of Clydelink’s incompetence. It is time for Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to cancel the contract and find another operator to provide the service.

Jackie Baillie: Communities cannot afford to wait any longer for action

“I continue to believe that transferring responsibility from SPT to the Scottish Government is the best option for improving this vital link in the long term.

“However our local communities cannot afford to wait any longer for action. Local businesses have lost out on revenue, residents have missed job interviews or hospital appointments, and the area has suffered damage to its reputation in the eyes of tourists and potential future residents.

“SPT should immediately begin making arrangements with another operator until the Scottish Government is in a position to take over the route.”

The petition reads as follows:

Rescue the Gourock – Kilcreggan Ferry Service from Clydelink

Dear SPT Chair and Transport Minister,

We write as passengers who rely on the Gourock – Kilcreggan Ferry service to demand urgent action to rescue our lifeline service from Clydelink’s mismanagement.

We have faced unprecedented levels of disruption since Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) renewed the contract with Clydelink in April 2017. Barely a month goes by without technical problems, often arising from the increasingly regular Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) spot inspections of the vessel, resulting in the ferry being suspended, often for days at a time. On several occasions there have been staffing issues resulting in ferry capacity being reduced to a maximum of 12. The unreliability of this ferry service has become particularly acute in the last 3 months, causing severe disruption to commuters, local businesses, the local community in general and to tourists.

There is a break clause in Clydelink’s contract in June 2018 and, action must be taken now to secure a replacement operator, as the contract must not be extended for up to seven years.

The Scottish Government has confirmed its intention to assume control of the service but the process has been paused due to the delays in the ongoing review of European policy on ferry contracts.

Local passengers cannot wait any longer for improvements. We believe that the SPT should act now to sack Clydelink and secure a more reliable operator.

Our demands:

  1. SPT must cancel Clydelink’s contract now for failing to meet the terms of service and find a new operator to fulfil the route until the Scottish Government assumes control.

  2. The Scottish Government must honour its promise to take over responsibility for the service and speed up the transfer process between SPT and Transport Scotland.

  3. Local communities should be consulted on the terms of any future contracts to ensure that passengers’ views are fully considered, including the need for a back-up vessel, the potential for reintroducing the service to Helensburgh and making the vessel more accessible.

8 Comments

  1. Although most of us would agree that the ferry service is a disaster and action should have been taken by SPT and the Scottish Government long ago to sort this mess out, and most of us would support the principle of what is being proposed in the petition, the way I read it is that the call is for the contract to be cancelled now. That would leave the community without a ferry service which is even worse that the service they have now.

    This was discussed at a Community Council meeting last night and it was agreed that, in the mean time, it was better to have a bad service than no service. If the contract was cancelled now without a replacement being put in place first, then the public would be left with no service. That is not acceptable. If the contract is to be cancelled, then a replacement service must be put in place first.
    Councillor George Freeman

    • Hi George,

      The petition is not calling for the service to be cancelled without any contingency plans put in place. I want SPT to open talks with other companies in order to find an operator to replace Clydelink until the Scottish Government takes control of the service.

      The reality is that we need to put pressure on SPT to take action now otherwise we will find ourselves in a position where the Clydelink contract is extended beyond 2018.

      I am keen to work with local councillors on this so it would be good to catch up with you soon.

      Best wishes

      Jackie

  2. I see what you mean, but don’t read it that way myself. Tbh though, even if the contract was cancelled first, there’s an argument that the service has been so awful that most people have given up on this company. It’ll be interesting to see the latest passenger numbers.
    Do our councillors have other suggested courses of action?
    What did the three Llomind North councillors say at The last council meeting when itc as discussed?

  3. Keep our service as residents need it. Travelling time for commuters and other people is horrendous, having to drive half way into Glasgow to cross Erskine Bridge then drive to Gourock and being able to see where you have just come from on the other side of the water. If we can’t keep our ferry, lets get some money spent on the West coast and build a bridge.

  4. Absolutely terrible that the council would even consider renewing this contract the people who travel to and from kilkreggan for work cannot rely on the service constant breakdown of vessel non compliance with mca more times than I’d care to mention taking on an operator with a proven track record and not some fly by night cowboy company

  5. At the last Council meeting, the Council agreed a motion unanimously that read as follows:

    “The Kilcreggan – Gourock ferry, operated by Clydelink Ltd on behalf of Strathclyde Passenger Transport, and operated on a year round basis, provides an important transport link to and from the Rosneath Peninsula. There has been a large number of sailings cancelled of late with an immense adverse effect on the local community. This has also affected local businesses, commuters, base workers from both Faslane and Coulport, elderly residents for shopping and residents with hospital appointments which can’t be met due to the unpredictability of the service. There is now a serious lack of confidence in SPT, on the part of service users to resolve this problem and the Council requests the Scottish Government to take on the direct provision of this service to ensure the delivery of a reliable service to the communities who rely on it”.

    As far as the comment from Chris is concerned, this is not a Council contract. It is an SPT contract and only SPT can take decisions on renewing it. That is why everyone has been pushing for over a couple of years for the Scottish Government to include it in the tendering for the other ferry services across Scotland. It is the Scottish Government who are now responsible for delaying the retendering of this service. We have been told that this issue has been raised at the highest level with Ministers in the Scottish Government on a number of occasions yet no action has been taken.

    Even if the contract was to be cancelled now, it could take up to six months for the service to be retendered by the Scottish Government or SPT with no guarantee that there would be bids from other operators and in the mean time, instead of having a bad service, there would be no service. That would be much worse than the current situation.

    I can confirm that I am well aware of all the problems with this service. I even submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Maritime Coastguard Agency for copies of all correspondence and inspections that have been carried out on this vessel and it makes for dire reading.
    Councillor George Freeman

  6. It seems as though some extremely dodgy stuff has been going on George,we are all sick of it ,we need an independent investigation into how this fiasco happened and yes it needs to be stopped and recommissioned asap.. How was any of this legal?

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. New contract needed to end 'nightmare' of Kilcreggan ferry says MSP - The Lochside Press

Comments are closed.