Argyll and Bute Council is to raise the issue of the Gourock-Kilcreggan ferry service with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) as a matter of urgency.
The decision was made unanimously this morning 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 in fact new. 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.
Councillors heard this morning that the indications are that MCA approval is ‘most unlikely’ to be given by the contract start date of April 1, 2012.
The council agreed that this would cause ‘extreme disruption and concern’ for those who use the service on a daily basis – for employment, education, medical appointments and so on.
Argyll and Bute Council will now raise the issue as a matter of urgency 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 March 31 and the new contract starting – even if this means SPT agreeing to extend the current contract until a replacement service is in place.
Councillors also unanimously agreed to pursue the reinstatement of a Helensburgh ferry service with SPT.