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Hi Bill, Thanks for the reply. The only jump …

Comment posted McGrigor runs out of patience on Dunoon ferry as Kay looks for world’s most expensive ferry by Matthew MacKenzie.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the reply. The only jump I made was as a result of the throw away one-liner you gave above. Maybe agree to disagree on that one?

I cannot believe in Professor Kay’s objectivity on the ferry issue, and become aggravated when in his reports he professes, for example NOT to use the word ‘cherrypicker’ pejoratively, then goes on to be the very personification of it on his weblog slagging off anyone who dares make a Freedom of Information request. That is undeniable fact. If he came out of the CalMac closet and nailed his colours to the CalMac mast, I would have a lot more respect for his views.

The biggest disappointment with Professor Kay is his lack of vision. His reports appeared too blinkered (just read the one I refer to above) to allow for islanders to have some ferry service competition. He virtually condemns Bute to a CalMac monopoly forever in his fantasy narrative in the report I quote.

With regard to the premise the good professor is trying to stop a monoploy. Well that is flawed, again by a combination of lack of vision and blinkered viewpoint.

At no point have I read what the professor SHOULD be challenging – Western Ferries and CalMac (I stand to be corrected) with regard to monopoly (whether state or private).

It takes no academic Einstein to see if, for example, Western Ferries become the professors doomsday monopoly at Cowal, there will be a STRONG possibility Western Ferries shall have a new competitor. Probably Stagecoach running in competition with them.

What is wrong with that? Competition is good.

All due respect to CalMac. It is a fine institution, but horrendously inefficient, and we islanders pay, no, bleed, through the nose at being FORCED to use the monopoly ferry service.

Just my viewpoint as an islander (well mostly ex-islander thanks to the cost of living on and getting to my island).


Matthew MacKenzie also commented

  • Hi Bob,

    You have a sense of humour for sure ! ! !

    I am not living it up on the mainland. I am stuck here. Can’t get home as often as I would like because of the sky high ferry fares. Hence why I am irked by some reports from those who have a very expensive education and should know better.

    Bob, to quote your point….

    “Surely Western Ferries or other ferry company could have competed with CalMac’s £70 car return from Islay and still made a profit all these years”.

    The reason that no private competitor has, as of yet come across to you is because they don’t want to have to sell their ships and piers to pay off the debts and get out of dire straits they have been put in by unfair monopoly ferry practices (MV Sound of Islay, MV Sound of Jura, Kennacraig Ferry Terminal all sold off to avoid Western going to the wall – does that ring a bell Bob?).

    Wonder why Gordon Ross has chosen Arran instead of Islay to expand?

    Would you invest in a ferry company to take state monopoly CalMac on? The reason this can now be considered is the EU investigation of CalMac in 2005 and the company having all of it’s ships and piers taken off of it. The era of pushing competition out via monopoly-might and power is coming to an end.

    As for two ferries on Isaly and Arran. Sorry buddy, but documents I’ve seen indicate otherwise. Worse, CalMac can be rightly accused of a Professor Kay job on Arran. Using the profs favourite term ‘cherrypicking’. CalMac runs the second ferry for a meagre 8 weeks in the peak of the season. If a private operator did that they would be castigated by academics as ‘cherrypickers’. The FACT is Western Ferries run ALL YEAR ROUND, and so do PENTLAND FERRIES.

    As for you askeing people to show you what they can do? Why?

    Why should they risk their money (when you wont) just to get slagged off by academics, and locals, or be put out of business by rigged ‘bundle’ tendering that keeps any fair competition off of routes like Islay.

    Last but not least, let is not forget the topic of this thread, or at least the http top line above….

    Kay Looks For The Most Expensive Ferry In The World.

    Objectivity my transom (to be nautically polite).

    I mean really that title is a subtle and pointed that it may as well be called ‘Sail With Titanic Cruises – You’ll Love The Ending’.


  • Good evening Bill,

    Thankyou for the near abusive message. I don’t want to waste your time nor mine either. However, it would be discourteous not to answer your question.

    You ask ‘where am I getting this from’ in relation to Stagecoach becoming a competitor to Western Ferries (thereby avoiding a private monopoly bogeyman as expressed by your colleague from Innellen).

    I am not on a different planet. That is plain rude of you. It is clear one of us is out of touch and in a different country. With respect methinks that may be yourself with one visit to Scotland in three years.

    I am getting the information from the Scottish Government Transport Directorate.

    Stagecoach has completed and been accepted for the Cowal ferry route tender PQQ. It is reasonable therefore to deduce that Stagecoach have an interest in the Gourock-Dunoon ferry service – yes?

    The Cowal route and tender process is in disarray just now. It may very well come about that Stagecoach bypass the process and do what Western Ferries did. Start an unsubsidised service and run on the adjacent Dunoon Gourock route in competition to Western Ferries if CalMac withdraw. This is public domain information – what kind of reporter were you?

    As for my right and those of islanders to be allowed a ferry service to run in competition to CalMac, I quote your ex-neighbour above where he is evidently bias against, for example, a private operator running to Bute. In your posting, you appear to speak for Neil Kay in saying neither you nor he are against competition. Fair enough.

    Though before you start with the pot calling kettle black allegations, please consider reading your neighbours article….

    If that isn’t a small dissertation on ferry competition = bad, then I don’t know what is.

    Whilst responding, you might be a little less abusive, and a little less selective in defending your colleague. For example has Mr Kay criticised anyone who dares make a Freedom of information request as a ‘cherrypicker’? Has he or has he not made a mockery of his position by denying the use of the word cherrypicker as pejorative, and then gone on hypocritically to do exactly what he has denied?

    The reason trivial contributers are so irritating is that they pontificate from afar, with the net result, islanders are deprived of ferry competition.

    Unlike you Bill, or it seems Professor Kay, I am more than willing to debate and not go off in a huff if I either lose an argument, or fail to get my message across.


  • Hi Bob,

    The reason I don’t read the local papers so much is because I had to leave my island due to very high cost of living, in part due to ferry competition being seen off by CalMac and our being screwed with sky high ferry fares. Though I still have a Royal Mail delivered subscription to the Ileach. I know from that, that your view is simply one view of what generally appears to be two camps on Islay. Pro-Western Ferries or Pro-CalMac.

    Bob, you ask about anyone stopping ferry competition. Were you asleep when Western Ferries were forced from Islay? Did you read the Monopolies & Mergers Commission Report of 1983?

    Were you aware of why Taygran Brothers were put out of business further north? Are you aware why more recently a local haulage firm looked at starting a commercial service (freight) to Islay which may be why Islay has two CalMac ferries instead of one now.

    Same thing happened on Arran. The slightest whiff of competition and here comes a second CalMac ferry that has the coincidental effect of blocking out competition.

    Don’t get me started on Orkney. Did you see what happened between Northlink (CalMac) and Pentland Ferries? Maybe to balance Professor Kay’s viewpoint, you might like to read Pentland Hero by Roy Pedersen.

    I am not against CalMac. I just would like there to be some ferry competition and choice.


  • Bill,

    Used to read your enjoyable Dunoon Observer paper with great interest, and the Oban Times, and The Ileach, and the Press & Journal. Great thing – no monoploy in the press industry, and freedom of choice. What exaactly is your problem with that?

    Just out of curiosity, now you are lucky enough to be retired abroad, do you chose the most expensive airline to travel on when coming back to visit?

    At least you have a choice of airlines.

    We don’t have a choice of any transport. CalMac or swim.

    When working in Dunoon did you use CalMac or Western Ferries or the train or the road? Maybe you are guilty of using all four choices of transport.

    We don’t have a choice of any transport. CalMac or swim.

    Hear hear back at you pal on all counts.


  • Bob,

    Try reading Professor Kay’s reports. I just spent £20 on ink cartridges printing a lot of them off. Thought it important to give the professor the courtesy of reading what he has written. I defy you not to nod off a bit. There is a lot. He enjoys his writing. It isn’t the most objective I have read.

    Here is a short one….

    Proves the point about….

    Western Ferries/Competition = Bad
    CalMac/Monopoly = Good

    My frustration is I have lived on an island all my life, and Professor Kay appears against me, my friends and islanders having any choice at all. I think a lot of CalMac, they are an excellent company. However, Professor Kay has the very choice he seeks to deny me and my island. From Innellen, he can go CalMac, or Western Ferries, or by road, or by train. Plenty of choice.

    I visit friends on Orkney. They have competition, and can use either Northlink or Pentland Ferries, or Orkney John O’Groats Summer Passenger Ferry.

    Why oh why are so many islanders labelled as cherrypicking plebs who should be actually restricted from being allowed any competition in their ferry services because of questionable agendas by one partisan person or another. Worse, by people who don’t even live on the islands?

    Bob do you live on an island?


Recent comments by Matthew MacKenzie

  • CalMac, Western Ferries, Arran, competition and public services
    The ForArgyll site is interesting and has clearly taken the owner a lot of time and effort for which he should be commended.

    However, the above pro-CalMac and anti-ferry-competition article is bias by any journalistic standards.

    So much so, that it begs the questions:-

    Does the owner of FroArgyll actually live on an island?

    Does he work or have a specific interest in CalMac?

    What is clear for the past 40 years is that CalMac, fine institution though it is, has made some major messes along the way. Note the new Islay Ferry Finlaggan that scandalously is too big for the pier! Such blights have caused islanders, note NOT big predatory mainland companies, but islanders who are so unhappy with CalMac to join together, volunteer their own time and effort into starting up a competing ferry service for their islands.


    As for the narrative above almost libellously acusing Western of Kite Flying. Well that is just spiteful bias guff. The md of Western has visited us several times on Arran. Were ForArgyll at any or these meetings? Were ForArgyll at any of the Clydebuilt ship launches of Western Ferry ships, or perhaps a guset at CalMac’s Polish shipyard launches!

    Where on earth did ForArgyll get the figure £25,000,000 to build an Arran ship? Perhaps from a CalMac costed effort.

    Sorry ForArgyll, but if you are to get more than the usual suspects (all 8 of them) contributing to your articles, maybe you need to raise your journalistic game and be a little less bias.

    Lastly, how come you are so nice to the Ileach, when it wasn’t five minutes ago you were personally appearing as a guest at a certain offial venue in Castlehill at Campbeltown !



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