THERE are “real concerns” that a vessel for a new Clyde ferry contract won't be approved in time, Argyll and Bute Council were told today.
The council is to urgently raise the issue of the Gourock-Kilcreggan ferry service with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).
The decision was made unanimously after a full council meeting heard there were “real concerns” that there could be a break in service on the route at the end of this month.
In January, SPT announced the result of a retendering of the Gourock-Helensburgh-Kilcreggan route. The new contract, which removed the Helensburgh link, was awarded to Clydelink.
The minutes of the meeting at which that decision was made show that it was ‘based on the provision of a new-build 60 seat vessel’.
It has since been confirmed that the vessel to be used is not new. [More information in previous article] It is currently at Lymington in Hampshire, and needs to be approved by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) before it can be used on the Gourock-Kilcreggan route.
Argyll and Bute councillors were told that the indications are that MCA approval is ‘most unlikely’ to be given by the contract start date of 1 April.
The council agreed that this would cause “extreme disruption and concern” for those who use the service on a daily basis – for employment, education and medical appointments.
Argyll and Bute Council will now raise the issue with SPT to seek an assurance that it has plans in place to ensure there will be no break in service between the current contract ending on 31 March and the new contract starting – even if this means SPT agreeing to extend the current contract with Clyde Marine of Greenock until a replacement service is in place.
Councillors also unanimously agreed to pursue the reinstatement of a Helensburgh ferry service with SPT.