A public meeting is being held to discuss the future of Kilcreggan’s beleaguered ferry service.
Currently run by Clydelink with an increased subsidy from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), the link with Gourock has been beset with problems since the latest contract came into effect last April.
A new contract, to take effect in July, is due to be awarded by SPT on January 26, and it is understood that a number of companies have expressed an interest.
But in the meantime Rev Christine Murdoch, a member of Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council, has arranged the meeting on Sunday January 28 in Craigrownie Parish Church at 2pm.
Rev Murdoch said the meeting was not intended to go over the failures in the service throughout 2017 but to look at the future.
“The issues with the Kilcreggan ferry and been many and varied in the past year with many people suffering from the lack of service,” she added.
“While some of our local politicians have been very helpful in keeping this on the political agenda, we as a community need to ensure that it is not forgotten about amongst other issues.
“Therefore, I have called a public meeting to discuss ideas for the future to ensure that we have the best possible ferry service between Kilcreggan and Gourock.”
The failures of 2017 included successive breakdowns, the Island Princess being impounded, crew shortages and an alleged fight involving crew members.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf has committed Transport Scotland in principle to taking over the route from SPT, potentially combining it with the Dunoon to Gourock contract which is due to be awarded this year, following lengthy legal delays.
But campaigners including Rev Murdoch were downhearted by Mr Yousaf’s comments in a debate called in Holyrood last November, when he said the ‘true cost’ of the service needed to be established first.
MSP Jackie Baillie last month pressed Mr Yousaf to provide a clear timescale for the service to be transferred from SPT to Transport Scotland, following the announcement that tendering for the Dunoon contract would resume ‘as soon as practically possible’.
Ms Baillie said: “SPT will soon announce the winners of the tender for the new 12-month contract and I hope this will result in a better and more reliable operator taking over from Clydelink.
“However this will only be a short-term fix and we need the Scottish Government to assume responsibility for the route to secure a reliable and resilient ferry service for years to come.”
Mr Yousaf told the Scottish Parliament in response to a question from Ms Baillie that ‘a number of bidders’ had come forward for the Kilcreggan contract, which is expected to be awarded by SPT’s operations committee on January 26.