The Gourock-Dunoon feasibility study

The report on the study of the feasibility of introducing a passenger and vehicle ferry service between the town centres of Dunoon and Gourock, carried out by consultants, MVA at a cost to the taxpayer of £50,000, was published yesterday morning, 3rd July.

It is less a feasibility study than a letter to Santa on behalf of some noisily demanding children.

It is full of absurd and unchallenged assumptions and many, often funny, internal contradictions as the consultants struggle with the gap between the evidence and the conclusions their paymasters wish to see them deliver. This could not be a declaration of certain feasibility – which is evidentially insupportable and might make it hard to find an excuse for not making a major financial commitment on a false premise. What has been required is a vague hint of the ‘just about feasible with a following wind, a tidal current and no obstacles in the water ahead’. As with much cooking, this is all about a controlled simmer.

The report includes unbelievably simplistic performance graphs. A series of these take the four business scenarios adopted – of static demand, of gradually ‘recovering’ demand, of ‘trend’ growth [eg: early and strong growth] and of continuing decline – and visually demonstrate that:

  • ‘static’ is a straight horizontal line over time;
  • ‘gradual recovery’ rises from this baseline at a steady angle half as steep as ‘trend’ growth;
  • ‘decline’ drops progressively below it.

Whoever would have believed that? But it takes £50,000 for such a revelation these days.

The sole purpose of this exercise has been political – to stall the chronically dissatisfied natives until after the 2014 Independence Referendum, rather than risk the loss of any more votes.

It would be all too easy – but an inappropriate response to a helpless document – to take it apart, line by line. The commentary below is therefore restricted to some key conceptual and structural weaknesses in the study.

The MVA ‘feasibility’ study

Astonishingly, the consultants have performed no needs analysis whatsoever to support the feasibility of the service they are studying. The absence  of this essential element makes it all too clear that the potential service is not about need but about an unneedy ‘want’.

As we have shown earlier from a full analysis of data on carryings and of the total service provided by the current publicly subsidised Argyll Ferries passenger service and the Western Ferries vehicle and passenger service, the reality of the Dunoon route is of heavy over-provision in respect of its evidenced needs.

With no need case even attempted here, this single lack invalidates the entire study.

The report’s projections of market share for the potential new service on the route are based on nothing more substantial than summoning the necessary commercially credible estimates on the back of prayer.

It comes to the conclusion that, subject to a great many ‘what ifs’ and errant assumptions on financial performance – like the design and weight of any new boat, the timescale in which the economy returns to growth, any aggressive competitive response from Western Ferries – this service would indeed be feasible.

Each of these examples of ‘what ifs’ and errant assumptions [and there are others] would alone be capable of destroying the feasibility of this type of service.

The consultants even  admit that they have simply ignored the possibility of a competitive response from Western Ferries. They have not factored this in because they say they cannot be sure it would actually happen – although they confess they have been told by Western that it would do whatever was necessary to protect its commercial position.

Feasibility means different things to different people

The report is very quick – as was the Deputy First Minister in her covering letter [linked below] to interested parties – to lay down a crunch caveat.

Both report and letter say that, while the study’s definition of ‘feasibility’ is that a feasible scenario is where projected incremental revenue can be shown to be higher than projected incremental costs – commercially attractive feasibility may be a different issue.

This is seen – rightly – as being a matter for the market, for each potential operator in deciding whether or not to tender for such a contract.

Commercial feasibility

The elephant in the room here is that, in the tender for the passenger service contract won by Argyll  Ferries in 2011, bidders were free to offer a combined passenger and vehicle service, with only the passenger element subsidised. Of four shortlisted bidders, only Western Ferries was prepared to offer that service.

This was, in practice, a market test and the market as a whole saw no realistic commercial return on investment in a punt on providing an unsubsidised vehicle vehicle service lashed to a subsidised passenger service on the proposed route.

Western was not a typical bidder in the 2011 instance, of course. It is in the unique position of already being in operation on one of the services between these two destinations. Unlike any other potential operator, it is in a position to negotiate with itself on competitive responses to any other operation of its own on the route.

The measure of the dishonesty of this study is that it concludes that the next step, following its declaration of ‘feasibility’ as it has defined it, is to consult potential operators to test market interest in providing this service.

They already know the answer. There is no interest from the market. They know this not just historically from the Argyll Ferries tendering process but from the process of this feasibility study itself – the unpublished part of it, that is.

The consultants, as we understand it, were instructed by the Dunoon-Gourock Ferries Action Group representatives on the study’s steering body, to establish market interest in operating the service on the town centres route. When they reported negative results from such approaches, they were told that such information could not be included in the study – and it is not mentioned.

This is deliberate suppression of key evidence known to both Transport Scotland and to the Dunoon-Gourock Ferries Action Group. It could not demonstrate more clearly that the Dunoon ferries campaign is about vanity; that all the local campaigners really need is face saving; and that the Scottish Government’s purpose is political placation.

The study is a wonderfully transparent dance of the seven veils, disguising strategically but hinting at the possible fulfillment of desires  – later – to maintain the interest of those for whom its dance has been commissioned – the Dunoon ferries campaigners.

The consultants will now be paid more to consult the ferry operators sector on any possible private sector interest in this route – which they have already done, to get an answer they already have.

And we will all pay for this too.

The decoy bait – taken already

In its conclusions, the report trails bait to entice, distract and occupy the Dunoon-Gourock Ferries Action Group campaigners.

It suggests that the major obstacle to commercial feasibility is the requirement to pay berthing and pier dues for each visit of each boat to each of the destination harbours of Gourock and Dunoon. Berthing dues are based on the gross tonnage of the boat concerned; and pier dues are paid on each passenger and each vehicle carried.

The fees are paid to the owners of the Gourock and the Dunoon harbours – to the Scottish Government via its wholly owned company, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd [CMAL] in respect of Gourock; and to Argyll and Bute Council for Dunoon.

The Ferries Action Group has taken the bait and is already on the campaign trail – the text of their Press Release is given below in full – ignorant of the fact that both the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council, however willing they might be to offer special rates on these fees, face two insurmountable difficulties in following through.

Both are required to prove best value criteria in their fiscal management; and were the Scottish Government to be seen to offer such an inducement to an operator of a state subsidised service in competition with an existing private sector operator – as Western Ferries is – competition law is a very big stick with a deeply bruising impact.

Western Ferries, of course, owns both of its own ferry terminals and linkspans and so operates on a different financial management premise.

There are many confusions and inaccuracies in this report, which indicate that its primary purpose is to quiet the Dunoon ferry campaigners until after September 2014 and the Independence Referendum.

For instance, the report refers to financial operations in a hypothetical new service from 2015 onwards – yet the current contract with Argyll Ferries runs until 2017 – and Transport Minister Keith Brown has publicly declared that the Scottish Government has no intention of truncating that contract.

Western Ferries

This study has a single dominant focus – Western Ferries.

It describes how Western Ferries operates  – a markedly well managed company with a high level of strategic capability – and uses this as its own template for how best a competing state-contracted competing service might conduct its business.

Running through the report is the mantra of ‘Western Ferries’.

What is its market share? What was its market share when Cowal Ferries operated a vehicle and passenger town centres service? What is its fares structure? What sort of ticketing arrangements does it employ? What service frequencies does it provide? How does it schedule its services?

And the big one: ‘What would Western Ferries do if the Scottish Government enabled the introduction of a competing vehicle and passenger service on the Gourock-Dunoon route?’

As the study says, Western have made it clear that they would present a robust response to any threat to their own market. Anyone who imagines Western is bluffing is deranged.

They have created the Hunter’s Quay to McInroy’s Point route – the shortest one. They have the maritime intelligence to commission boats that provide the preeminently reliable ferry service on the Clyde. They own their own linkspans. They have a four boat fleet and have ordered two new boats which are in construction at the moment. They are profitable – yet uniquely accept SPT free travel concession cards from passengers. They run a responsive operation with their fourth boat generally available to step in at short notice to run an unscheduled 15 minute sailing frequency in times of unusual demand. They are a lean, knowledgeable, fast response, reliable, well found and well managed service.

Of course they would fight in law – and they would win. Of course they would compete on the water – and they would win.

The consultants simply do not want to contemplate this. They admit that even one of many possible responsive actions by Western could remove the slender feasibility of the potential service. So they just don’t talk about it.

They admit that there is not much of a new market to be created for the route – and indeed the report pays no attention to growing the market for the route, accepting it as essentially a commuter and convenience service for residents.

The study says of the new service it pronounces to be feasible: ‘The large majority of revenue would come from a transfer from Western Ferries’, meaning that the success of any new state subsidised service could only be achieved by planning to take market share from this successful private sector operation.

Any competition law case taken by Western in the improbable event of a start up of such a venture could only celebrate the provision by the state of this sort of evidence.

The consultants even talk wistfully of the possibility that Western might have to ‘retrench’ – something obviously seen as the dream outcome.

The surreal situation revealed by this study is that we have a report commissioned by the Scottish Government with taxpayers money, whose finding of feasibility is secure only if a state-provided and partially subsidised service were to be able to force a successful private sector operation into ‘retrenchment’.

Supposing they managed this – it’s actually inconceivable but suppose?

Where would be the sum advantage to Dunoon and Cowal; to its ferry services which, as they stand are unparallelled in the UK in the luxuriance of their provision; to Dunoon’s local employment situation; to the taxpayer, currently sheltered by the private sector responsibilities carried by Western?

And what message does it send to entrepreneurs in advance of a hypothetical Scottish independence that the Scottish Government is, for its own political ease, appearing to contemplate action that it admits would force an impeccable example of private enterprise into ‘retrenchment’?

And all of this is put forward with no trace of a needs analysis to support it.

Footnote: An FoI request from For Argyll to Transport Scotland for information on the background to this study was refused on the grounds that the study was in preparation and could be compromised by such a release of information. With the study published, we have now asked for the release in short order of the information we had requested some time ago.

Documents: Below is the report itself, three responses to the feasibility study report, each short, each worth reading for different reasons – and our research results revealaing massive over-provision to Dunoon, published almost a year ago on 1st August 2012.

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116 Responses to The Gourock-Dunoon feasibility study

  1. This stirs the ghost of times past when Western Ferries had built up an efficient service, using a modern Norwegian boat, on the Kennacraig – Port Askaig route, requiring no public subsidy, only to be undercut by the government pouring money into the traditional Calmac service, with at least one purpose-built boat of distinctly awkward design (from the point of view of vehicle users).
    Perhaps if there’d been European competition rules in those days then the Islay ferry ‘scene’ today would be very different.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 8

  2. The four additional documents does not allow a click on the DGFAG news release.
    It goes back to the feasibility study report.
    Computer gremlin at work!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • Thanks for the prompt and sorry about that. Can’t blame the computer – just BSE after a long slog.
      Correct link now installed.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  3. This report is not worth a penny of the £50k spent on it. I have neither the time or inclination to take it apart line by line, but as newsroom says, it would be too easy.

    It is fundamentally flawed and misses some key and critical factors, as mentioned the ‘need’.

    No-one who wishes a car ferry to return should take any hope from this report. If the DFAG think this means the car ferry will return, you will be waiting a very very long time. The last few paragraphs say it all.

    I fully agree this is a blatant and unashamed stalling tactic from the SNP.

    Newsroom – I wonder with a little research outwith Argyll you can find out how many key decisions the SNP are delaying until 2014. Like the Dunoon Ferry. West coast and Hebrides Ferries, the stamp duty rates?

    Gathered together, i think the SNP will slowly be found out. I’d much rather they took the tough decisions and handles the consequences. Like Struan Lodge – they were incapable of dealing with it and backtracked as soon as the going got tough. Notwithstanding the fact that Struan decision was flawed, but it shows that the SNP cannot take the heat, but are happy to critisice the UK government who actually have the balls to do what is needed.

    This government are showing themselves not to be fit for purpose. The honeymoon is ending. Nothing can be put off forever. Just until Sept 2014 then god help us all.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 9

  4. Newsroom aka soapbox

    You always seem to be vehemently pro Western and now anti-nationalist.

    You have been asked before what your organisational structure is but have never given a clear answer. What is “forargyll” who are your backers?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14

    • Go to the top of the page. Hold curser on home. Choose one of the options – the answers may well be in there somewhere.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

          • You would have to ask Western’s Gordon Ross that he said “These potential operators made it perfectly clear to the consultants that they had no interest in operating a competing vehicle service on the Gourock to
            Dunoon route.”

            That sounds like not only does Western have a monopoly there is also some kind of Cartel amongst ferry operators. If not how would Western know what companies that are supposed to be its competitors said (presumably in confidence) to consultants?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

          • Richard you are on the FAG, so you should know. I wonder if these operators had expressed an interest, would their comments be included, within the report.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

          • For Argyll has never sought nor accepted any financial support of any kind from anyone or any body.
            It is completely independent in every possible way.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

          • Newsroom “For Argyll has never sought nor accepted any financial support of any kind from anyone or any body.
            It is completely independent in every possible way.”

            Sorry but being a pedant is “For Argyll” a legal entity ?

            If it is not then of course it could not accept finance. So it is e.g. a company, charity, partnership etc. please disclose its legal identity. If it has no legal identity then please disclose who controls the name and accepts legal responsibility for the site.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

          • Richard, why do you feel that this post deserves an answer when you are posting under an assumed name.

            You are asking for information that you are not prepared to provide yourself.

            Why don’t you place an FOI to find out?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

    • How is that related to this subject? i read the report before this article was published and reached very similar conclusions as newsroom.
      I can summarise for anyone who has better things to do than read 80 pages when one line will do.
      ‘A car and ferry service will be feasible until we engage commercial operators and they tell us it’s not’
      And for those who are taking step back, yes, you are right. Bar Western, there were no commercial operators interested in running this as a car and passenger service when it was put to tender.
      £50k to tell us what we already knew.
      Hurray! I thought it was just Westminster who wasted money!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 12

      • Yes you reached that conclusion.

        So please give us the reason why you reached that conclusion?

        The Scottish Government set a test the report passed the test so your point is?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

          • I think this study reveals more by what it does not say rather than what it puts into print, if you see what I mean.

            There are so many omissions that it’s hardly worth the paper it’s printed on.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9

    • Richard I see you are back using the term “soapbox”, why don’t you get out of the playground?

      Again, using a made up name is childish, if you have a point why are you scared to use your real name.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

  5. again you refer to Dunoon residents as ” dissatisfied natives”, and even worse “noisily demanding children”
    This is a disgraceful way to describe people who live in Argyll, especially from a so-called newspaper that titles itself FOR ARGYLL
    A newspaper, and a department that calls itself NEWSROOM, should be stating facts only and not biased opinion. If you wish to make a general comment on the supporters of the centre to centre ferry provision, then this should be done separately in EDITORIAL.
    Better still in order not to reflect your vindictive nature, you should resign and the paper owners employ a proper journalist

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 13

  6. Let’s face troops – we all knew well before Newsie actually got around to commenting on this report that a) she would try to rubbish it and b) praise Western Ferries.

    And, true to form she did just that. But in rubbishing the consultants she has omitted to make any comment on their national and international reputation. So for those who might be interested in finding out more -without the predictable biased sneaky comments from Newsie clouding their judgement – here is a link to their site.
    http://www.mvaconsultancy.com/

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 9

    • Simon,

      have you read it and come to a conclusion that is not similar to newsroom’s? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The report is such a non-event, I don’t know how pro-another car ferry folks could take heart from it.

      If you are against it, this report means nothing. If you are for it, this report provides nothing either!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9

      • I could have taken the £50k and made an identical summation, to wit, that if someone comes along and takes more than half of Western’s present traffic using two cheap boats funded by someone else, you would turn in a profit, assuming of course that Western sit back and do nothing in retaliation.

        But, alas, I am not a world-renowned consultancy firm who produces analytical reports tailor made to whichever customer demands it. I remain £50k worse off.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

    • Simon, I doubt that £50,000 would buy much in the way of deeply researched advice from any self-respecting ‘international consultant’, so surely the main purpose of the exercise was to enable the politicians and senior civil servants to divert blame to someone else at a cost (to us) that in their eyes is small change.
      That’s not to say that the consultants aren’t thoroughly diligent people, and of course provided excellent value for money.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  7. So, how would any company manage to make a healthy profit after paying £4 million a year to use Gourock linkspan, pier dues for Dunoon Linkspan, purchase/lease of two ferries, staffing costs, fuel, maintainence, depreciation costs etc? How much would they have to charge per crossing to do this? Doesn’t appear to add up somehow.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

    • There would have to be some dodgy manoeuvering around the management of the subsidy for the passenger service – which would be unlikely to stand against the scrutiny that would certainly be applied under legal challenge.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

      • Good to see that Dunoon Lad and Newsroom are starting to think about things.

        You are quite correct private companies cannot make a good profit if they are forced to pay unreasonable fees at Dunoon and Gourock.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

        • Funnily enough other commercial companies operate out of harbours and piers owned by Cmal and Argyll and Bute Council but mange to pay their rates.

          Richard, please stop treating readers of this site as idiots.

          Also the Gourock to Dunoon service is not the centre of the universe where everything has to be reordered just to suit the purpose of the few.

          If the Council were to drop their charges across the board then there would be a financial hole in their budget. Likewise if Cmal were to reduce their rates they would need more government money to fund the maintenance bill.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

          • Actually Peter tell me what CalMac pay in total to CMAL for using the their ports.

            I’ll take a guess that you have no idea. I do. It is a fraction of what the Dunoon Gourock ferry is supposed to pay.

            Go and chew on that.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

          • Since the rates changed in April this year they will be paying the new rates.

            Richard, obviously your mountain of FOI requests have failed to find that out. You might want to submit a few more.

            I’ll continue to chew away on all the garbish you lay down here.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

          • Sorry Peter, they don’t pay the new rates and did not pay the old old rates.

            Those rates are stupidly expensive!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

          • Peter,
            Very good so what new three year contract will CalMac be signing in August and how much will they paying?

            Why do they have to sign a contact anyway surely the fees are published and they simply have to pay them?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  8. Of course, it they are making a good profit carrying cars, the passenger subsidy should be removed, without causing issues.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

  9. Time will tell, if there are in fact service operators willing to have to spend millions of pounds of their own cash setting this all up, in the hope that they will make a healthy return in 15 years. Might be a hard one to sell to the shareholders!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

  10. Rumour has it on another forum, that Western are working on a plan to transport passengers to their terminals from Dunoon and possibly from Gourock. Anyone know if this has any truth in it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  11. Dunoonlad, I’ve not heard anything like that, but I had money on the passenger route being scrapped altogether, and post-2014, I would still place money on it.

    With the cross ticketting, arrangements,SPT concessions, AF buses to Western when weather is poor, it’s all pointing that way. Why have two ferries, multiple ferry staff, berthing dues and so on when you can have a small bus on each side?

    Saving? About £1.3m a year, and that’s being pessimistic.

    Watch this space – but watch from 2014.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

    • I should have read the report better! McGills already run a Dunoon to Gourock town centre service via Western – 10 return journeys on weekdays, 9 on Saturdays, and 6 on Sundays. So a total replacement bus service has already begun with over 6.000 journeys a year.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

      • Dunoon Lad, the very fact that your accurate and factual comment has already attracted two ‘thumbs down’ suggests to me that the original reference to ‘chronically dissatisfied natives’ is probably putting it politely.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

        • Absolutely correct the natives are and have been for a very long time chronically dissatisfied with no real competition on ferries to the town.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

          • Richard, according to the study western has had the majority of traffic for years. It would seem that the masses voted with their feet. Western’s fares have also been cheaper.

            Yes some people do like western ferries however that’s to do with politics and not the service they provided.

            The majority of people are very happy with service they provide.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

          • Ferryman, you have hit the nail exactly on the head! This whole debacle is about having competition on the services to Dunoon. Yes, public and private services have their pluses and negatives, but because Cal-Mac were milking the government for sky high subsidies for decades, they were eventually stopped. Like it or not, the Government have a knight in shining armour (well red and white) who probably told them if they get rid of Cal-Mac, they will provide new ships, a frequent reliable service, and it won’t cost them one penny. What Government is not going to jump at that offer? Did the previous Governments not do the same, when they failed to provide new ships?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

          • I am one of the people who used Western most over the years. I am sorry but there tickets were more expensive.

            If the town center route had run more frequently, for longer hours and not had such stupid ticketing rules then without a doubt I would have used it more.

            Why did the Scottish Government stop the town center route from sailing more frequently?

            Letters from CalMac to the Government were published recently showing that CalMac wanted to sail more often and could make a profit from doing so.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

          • Richard, according to the study western’ s fares were 17% cheaper than the subsidised fares. Currently all their fares are cheaper than Argyll ferries.

            No need to be sorry.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  12. Before the first world war, there were 2 car ferry services from what is now Inverclyde to Cowal. Two ferry services are something we have been used to for quite a while.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  13. Well, according to what I have read recently, this seems to sum up what may or may not be true – McGills are already running a town centre to town centre service via Western, using the same bus that goes to and from Dunoon and Glasgow. No idea what they charge from Dunoon to Gourock? This is in effect means that there is almost (they miss a few journeys out throughout the day) an hourly bus service between the towns. This cannot be a total replacement if Argyll go off, until the service is at least hourly from early until the last Argyll sailing. According to the report, vehicle and passenger usage on both routes has fallen during the last few years, so there cannot be an argument for any need for more sailings. Dunoon was extremely fortunate for having two services to choose from for almost 40 years. Where else in Scotland has more than one ferry service to the same areas (the Pentland Firth services may be one) ? Dunoon folk got so used to having two services, but didn’t use one enough (yes, we all know the well stated reasons for this) and they still want a second service, just because. Yes, there is a difference between a private and a public monopoly, but Euroland rules have changed all this for ever it seems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    • Yes there is a bus service. So why do commuters not use it. Well they have to get work in a reasonable length of time.

      You try taking McGills bus from Dunoon to Glasgow and back on a daily basis in the winter then report back.

      Essentially what you are saying is that Dunoon is closed for business for commuters. Unfortunately that is a message that has now been only too clear for two years. So what we have is no high income people moving to the town and anybody who can leaving. This is not good news for people in the area whether or not they use the ferries themselves.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

      • Richard, you are contradicting one of your earlier posts here. Why exactly are no high income people moving into town and how does that relate to a town centre service.

        As the proposed new service would have to follow westerns fares to get market share , according to your post they will still not come. Perhaps you are scraping the barrel here.

        It would be easy for Mcgills to put on additional buses and make them express therefore taking almost the same time to get to central station (not Buchanan bus station) as the ferry/ train option.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

        • Peter, who is the Richard that you keep referring to? Was it not here that Newsroom suggested a few months back, that McGills may be looking at Express Services with Wi-Fi on board to entice even more users?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

          • Actually its not Richard.
            Its Robert, as in Robert Trybis, one of the DGFAG.
            One of the steering group members who have forced the consultants and Transport Scotland to change the content of the study to suit what they wanted to hear.
            In the words of an old American tv series “this story is true, only the facts have been changed”

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

      • High income commuters?

        1) Why should I, through my taxes, be forced to subsidise the lifestyle choice of any of your “high income commuters”? In effect, my taxes, ultimately, are being used to prop up property values, in areas where there is an artificial brake on supply of building plots, by enabling wealthier people than me to commute from inappropriate locations. Where do you draw a line on that? Why not commute from Arran? Campbeltown? Oban? (And I concede that this argument regarding subsidising the lifestyle choice of the wealthy extends well beyond the Gourock Dunoon issue, viz., the new Borders rail line etc.)

        2) Surely “high income commuters” can afford simply to drive across on Western?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

        • Granted people who have cars might use Western but many of those may also leave because of the increased time and costs. Queues are now a regular feature – they were not previously.

          However there are plenty of commuters on the passenger only service who feel they are being given little alternative but to leave, because the current service is unreliable and the alternative does not get them to work on time.

          These people bring new money into the town, money which the businesses in the town need.

          If you are aware of the current situation at all then you will have realised that students who used to stay here and commute have now moved away. Students are hardly high income but as young people leave the situation will snowball, those that remain want to move with their friends and still more finance drains from the town.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

          • Robert, increased time really, what are we talking about here 5 minutes 10 minutes?

            As for cost Western are and were cheaper than cowal ferries.

            Students have always moved away for college, there is nothing new is this, this has been happening for decades.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

          • ferryman, – I know of a HGV driver who works from a depot in Hillington, he is on a final warning because of the number of times he has not been able to get to work on time.
            If, or more likely when, he loses his job I suppose those who do not support DGFAG will rejoice and say ‘that’s one less who needs to commute town centre to town centre’.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

          • Maybe but that has to with Argyll ferries, presumably as this is because he relies on the passenger service and nothing to do with a vehicle service.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  14. The report suggests that similar boats used to the Isle of Wight would suit the river conditions here. The vehicular ferries would be stripped down versions with no second car deck or lifts, and would have higher bulkheads than Western’s to help prevent spray. The passenger ones suggested would not be high speed ships, but would be able to operate in most conditions the Clyde gets. They also suggest that the Class Zone should be moved slightly to include the breakwater linkspan, and up the speed restriction slightly which would help the passenger ferry operate better. Hope they got this section correct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

    • What they proposed as being suitable newbuilds, unwittingly it seems, is Mk2 Streakers, with the same dimensions, power, speed, propulsion systems, and car capacity, as the old boats but with drive through car decks. We had to pay them to tell us that.

      Bizarrely, they also proposed that the forty year old Bequia Express, a cast off from Norway ten years ago and now plying the Caribbean out of St Vincent, would be a suitable stop gap. This is despite there being a newer vessel (Saturn) which all but meets their own specification, and which is almost certainly in much better condition, and lying unused just a few miles away.

      Just as they considered and dismissed, rather glibly, the Clyde Clipper for use as a passenger ferry, did they also consider the Saturn but fail to report this? Or did they not? I smell a political rat.

      And they reckon you can build a Mk2 Streaker for £6 million? Not by a country mile if you let Calmac/CMAL near it you won’t, given that they’re currently building two ferries HALF that size for nearer to £12 million each. Given the likely price CMAL would pay for new Streakers, being excessively optimistic say £15-20 million each, the economics of the whole thing falls flat on its face (as if it’s not there already).

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

      • The Dunoon Ferry group lost my support when they refused to contemplate more robust passenger ferries, instead going for the option that is least desirable and most difficult to justify and falls clearly into the ‘want’ category rather than that ‘need’.

        I noted too the quick dismissal of Clyde Clipper simply because it did not meet the ‘criteria’, which in itself was completely arbitrary.

        The suggest that a ferry can be built for the cost the consultants are saying is laughable, absolutely laughable.

        The Dunoon Ferry Group could have fought a more realistic battle, and had a very high chance of winning. Instead, a meaningless report has been produced, and the status quo will continue for years to come.

        With the replacement of Ali Cat, a fundamentally good service would have been made immensely more reliable. The solution was so simple.

        I repeat again – for those who want a car service, your chances have been scuppered. Almost literally. For those that wanted a reliable passenger service, something that is entirely understandable – well, your chances are massively reduced, thanks to a group who have been hell bent on one outcome and one outcome only.

        I do think newsroom should clarify tho – the chronically disatisfied natives are probably no more than DFAG themselves, and not representative of Dunoon commuters as a whole.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

        • The issue is now so politicised that a rational outcome is virtually impossible.

          The SNP, desparate to win votes, made rash promises, now home and well and truly roosted, plainly without bothering to consider the legal, fiscal and technical detail. It was easy to do this, maybe even to keep them, at the tail end of Gordon Brown’s profligacy orgy.

          With the ongoing fiasco, Labour, equally desparate to win votes, have been handed a big stick with which to hit back and aren’t the DGFAG doing a good job of assisting them…

          If the money can somehow be extracted from (more deserving) government budgets, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see CMAL being handed anything up to £40 million and told to go and build two new streakers simply to get this problem off the political agenda.

          It’s easy to be free with money when it’s not your own.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

  15. Reading all this puts me in mind of the STAG report on Easdale Island transport links which was done some years ago.
    The consultants spent many pages discussing, justifying, diagramming, flow-charting, spread-sheeting and costing out the feasibility of using a Hovercraft as a passenger-only ferry, whilst dismissing in one sentence the feasibility of using a drop-bow vessel capable of taking wheelchair users, stretcher cases, wheelie bins, building materials etc., etc., and generally dealing effectively with the problems and practicalities of life on a small island.
    Obviously the Hovercraft idea was much more fun.
    As far as I know this costly, nonsense-filled tome has been quietly filed away in a dark place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

    • and, of course, the best value for money outcome would have been a fixed link. However, some seemingly dodgy statements were included in the report that appeared to suggest the consultants were not quite as independent as had been expected. Another example of a total waste of money.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  16. And I think that Western may “up their game” with the arrival of their two new ships in just a few weeks time. Why were the ferry action group given so much say in this report? The consultant’s report should have been as factual and realistic as possible, which should have set the goals for the next few decades at least.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

  17. Pm – that’s not going to happen, unless there is a tender in place that has a specific company willing to lease them long enough to repay the build cost. Probably the most likely outcome now is either the contract not being renewed, or two new build passenger ferries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

    • Correct. Back to square one and the broken SNP promise to build ferries. Unless a contract for ferries is put in place there will not be a service. It is possible a that a ferry operator will decide to build vessels, but that does not have to be the case. On other routes the vessels are not owned by the Government or the operators.

      It is really up to the Scottish Government to sort things out.

      As to them fudging the Report that seems a bit silly. Surely if they were going to “fix” the report all they had to do was to get it to conclude the service was not viable. That would have defended their broken election promise and closed the whole matter.

      Equally if the report is a “fairy tale” full of holes that no operator would be interested in – why all the fuss from Western?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

      • Before the split Calmac owned all the vessels, western Ferries own their own vessels. The vessel chartered by Calmac to Stornaway is going when the new vessel comes in. Northlink charter two vessels but these are ageing freighters that are general use.
        Domestic Ferries are usually designed for a specific route and are then replaced at the end of their economic life. Hence the limited second hand market.
        The Scottish government can hardly build vehicle ferries for Gourock to dunoon when the need is for a passenger only service.
        As for fixing the report, I am sure that a fudged report is more politically suitable to placate the action group. I suspect in the fullness of time the interference of the consultants will become public knowledge. As part of the steering group i am sure you could tell us all how you to perverted this report to suit you goals.
        I am sure if you were to read the report without the blinkers you would see all the wriggle room the report gives. In fact if you read the report with an element of openness it concludes that feasibility will be determined by the potential operators and not how the study determines feasibility.
        As for Western Ferries why don’t the Fag group ask them.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

      • For example Western obviously know that the FAg were behind the cover up with regards the potential operators expressing no interest in operating the service.
        Can you confirm or deny?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

      • Robert, I will assume from your silence that Western were correct.
        What other important information was covered up? The cost of the vessels, staff numbers, fuel utilisation.
        What other information was made-up revenues, market share, Western’s reaction to competition?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  18. Seems like a lot of jiggery-pokery has been going on with the DFAG/consultants/government, and whoever else over this debacle of the ferries. When you think back to all the comments made by “ferryman” over the years slating the whole process, and he was involved in it all along! Can anyone believe anyone now ;-(

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  19. Gus Mackay mentioned an HGV driver who might lose his job. That does not surprise me, I saw a young woman in tears because she could not get to work on time and could not afford the loss of earnings and extra costs arising from the current mess. I doubt these are isolated incidents.

    Students do leave to attend college etc. but there were a fair number who were commuting. Those numbers have dwindled because they cannot get to lectures on time and they have voted with their feet and left town.

    In my comments I have slated the incompetence of people who put in place a ferry service using inadequate bathtubs.

    What the report says is that for a reliable service you need bigger boats and that the cheapest way to get bigger boats is to let them carry vehicles – that is what the “usual suspects” have been saying for years, but at least it is now official.

    I have no idea if operators have said they will not bid for the route. From his statements Gordon Ross seems to know. How can that be though, are the other operators not supposed to be his competitors? Do the operators have a cosy club where they sit down and divide routes up between them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    • This is very simplistic.
      Yes, bigger and heavier boats are more stable but they cost much more in fuel usage, which drives operating costs markedly upwards.
      The greater weight of a vehicle and passenger ferry derives directly from its designed capacity to carry the weight of vehicles; leaving the greater proportion of operating costs to be recouped in vehicle fares and in market share for vehicle carryings.
      Of all possible travellers on this wish-list service, motor vehicles have the greatest independence of movement.
      It is unimaginable that many vehicle drivers would not choose to go to the nearby Western Ferries if its vehicle fares were competitive.
      The only circumstances in which Western’s vehicle fares would not be competitive would be if the Scottish Government’s contracted service deliberately undercut Western. This would leave the government with nowhere to go in a challenge under competition law – which would certainly come; and possibly under EU subsidy regulations as well.
      There is absolutely no need for a town centres vehicle service. There is arguably a need for a town centres passenger service – which exists. However, with a feeder bus service going onboard the Western boats and onward potentially to Glasgow, there are more comfortable and cost efficient ways of providing this service too.
      The core issue here is needs analysis – and this has not been done in the MVA ‘study’. Our own work on this a year ago demonstrated how lavish a ferry service provision Dunoon currently enjoys – and remains an inconvenient matter no one cares to discuss.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

      • The Magills/Western bus to Buchanan Street Glasgow takes just over 2 hours…..
        Ferry from Dunoon at 10 minutes to the hour gets into Central Station 1 hour and 12 minutes later….
        1 hour and 40 minutes of additional travel time for a return journey..if bus is not held up in traffic.
        If not in a hurry I know which way I would choose.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

        • To someone who isn’t a regular traveller on this route the drive from Gourock through Greenock to the ‘open road’ onwards to the motorway and Glasgow is tedious in the extreme, and is beaten hands down by the train journey. But the trek on foot from a vehicle ferry docked at the linkspan at Gourock to the station platform is just not acceptable, and if passenger ferries docking next to the station aren’t feasible then I’d put my money on a shuttle bus between Dunoon town centre and Gourock station via WF – and I’d be very surprised if the MVA study didn’t consider this as one option.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

          • As you say you are not a regular traveller on the route. Get some people who do use the town centre ferry and train daily to say that instead of getting a ferry direct to the train they would prefer to go by bus to Hunter’s Quay, then get a ferry, then go from McInroy’s Point to the station – I don’t think you will get any takers.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

          • ‘..then get a ferry, then go from McInroy’s Point to the station..’ – you’re really trying to make it sound far more tedious than it would be, and in fact a trip via a through shuttle bus could well be more user-friendly than the journey via the current ferry landings.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

        • David, the first two McGills bus service in the monring takes 100 minutes (Dunoon to Bothwell Street/Central Station) , the second takes 95 minutes.
          This compares to the first two ferry train options taking 94 minutes and 87 minutes. That is depending on if the ferries are on time and the train tracks have not melted.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

          • Peter Wade,- Very selective in which times you are highlighting.

            The other McGill’s buses leaving Dunoon during the day take 1hr 50mins, compared with AF then train 1hr 13mins.

            Also there is no bus leaving Dunoon at 8.25
            11.25
            13.25
            17.25
            This is not a regular enough service and is certainly not faster, commuters want/need to get from Dunoon to Glasgow quicker.

            Forget the train tracks melting, your argument just melted faster!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

      • The report states “at a total of 625k cars in 2010,
        this makes Gourock-Dunoon the busiest ferry crossing in Scotland by some margin, and significant in volumes by European standards”.

        Information from Western’s accounts published in the Observer show they were making 28% profit on turnover for what is now a monopoly vehicle service.
        That seems a huge profit margin and I am certain far more than was being made on the Skye Bridge.

        A website ( http://www.brocher.com/Ferries/expensiveferry.htm ) from a respected academic concludes “we have a reasonable candidate for the most expensive ferry service in the world in Western Ferries”

        I think that is a fairly conclusive “needs analysis” for why at a bare minimum there should be a choice of vehicle ferries on this route.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

        • Robert, that analysis has been trumped by the feasibility study which sates that you have reduce Cowal ferries fares by 17% to get to western’s.

          What does that say about a government run and fare set ferry service.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

    • Robert, the cheapest way to improve reliability is bigger vessels, absolute rubbish. Bigger vessels will have bigger areas open to the wind and hence will more difficult to berth in windy conditions.
      How is it cheaper. According to the Study the passenger-only subsidy remains the same. Only, if the incremental revenues exceed the incremental costs will this generate a profit. This profit does not go back to reduce the subsidy, it goes to the operator.
      If you are part of the DGFAG group, then you will know if the responses from potential operators were negitive. Please let us know.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  20. Most expensive ferry in the world? The cost of getting from Gourock to Dunoon is cheaper than driving. And saves a lot of time.

    I use the route to avoid the drive, and have no issue with the fare. I’d like everything in the world cheaper, but the ferry is not one that bothers me too much. I never used Calmac because it was too expensive, not because it only ran once an hour – i knew what time it left and could just have planned for it.

    The DFAG group could have fought for a PSO on Western. But they didn’t. They have no grounds to criticise Western.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  21. Well, the public meeting was very poorly attended tonight. Around 200 turned up, and no shows or apologies from the DFM, The Consultants, or our MSP. Considering the previous meeting in the Queen’s Hall had around 600? Given the areas pop is around the 8,000 mark, 1,000 or so would have been a great attendance. Not any further progress on anything really, but I was concerned of the vehicular service or nothing theme that ran throughout the meeting. Nobody mentioned anything about whether there was a need for more vehicle capacity. It was a very blinkered “we want a two ferry town centre to town centre service, and will accept nothing else” theme. If I was looking to set up a new business, one of my first thoughts would be “is there a need for my idea, and would customers actually use my business? ” Wishing them luck on their challenge ahead, but what is their Plan B, if Plan A fails?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    • I only counted around 80 folk there, DunoonLad. There was an Agenda produced for the meeting – it wasn’t adhered to. No aplogies were given, only a blanket “some folk apologise for not being here” but no names were given as they should have been. I’m still puzzled by the assumptions made in the report and by tonight’s panel, which seemed to include some guy called Ferryman. Which ferry does he work on? Not seen him on any of the ones I’ve sailed on, for sure.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    • The funniest part of the meeting was the continued mention of “now we have the facts”, what facts. There are more assumptions in the report than there were people at the meeting.

      Looks like the numbers are falling off. There was talk about a demonstration to be organised in Edinburgh and they were talking about coaches and selling tickets. I am sure that there will be space enough in a mini cab.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

      • Gus, I did try and ask a question several times, was acknowledged several times by “Mr Mike”, but for some reason he never came to me with his mike. Maybe only those the panel knew got a chance?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

          • Absolute garbage, do you honestly expect those of us who were there and more importantly those who were not to believe your assertion the chair knew the people she was choosing at random.

            Of course the likes of the local MP was known to most, after the event I was asked if I knew some of the people who asked certain questions.

            If you were there? you will recall a gentleman admitting before his question regarding tunnels tell us he had only recently moved back to Dunoon after many years ‘down south’. Are you people serious when accusing the panel of “only those the panel knew” and “only those and such as those”, getting the chance to ask a question.

            More likely you did not ask a question for fear of the answer you did not want!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  22. Hope their “expert advisers” at the top table are not leading the group into false expectations for the future. They may now possibly have a better chance of pushing for two new build “almost all weather” reliable passenger ferries, and suitable landing facilities at both towns to be built, which would attract more passengers to use the service, and hopefully benefit the area.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • Dunoon lad other notable high lights
      1 Ken Barr’s admission that he had done a feasibility study on the tunnel option, not bad for a retired press officer. £40m for a tunnel. I nearly wet myself it was so stupid.
      2. The three “expert” wise old men. It’s seems that they are handing out expertise in lucky dip bags.
      3. Alan Reid.
      The best night of comedy in the Queens hall for a long time.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

      • CMAL, if their recent record in procurement is anything to go by, would in all probability spend more than £40 million to build two new streaker sized ferries and a replacement linkspan at Gourock. The Nordic countries routinely build subsea tunnels of lengths and depths similar to the Cowal – Inverclyde crossing for that sort of money. It’s no big deal. The extensive economic and engineering details of the projects, including ongoing maintenance costs, are all easily accessed.

        PW, you don’t appreciate a retired press officer punting this idea; I infer that you don’t believe that he’s qualified to do so. But, by an equal token, exactly what expertise or professional background do you have to back up your own rather glib dismissal of such a proposal?

        The plain fact is that the Norwegians and Faeroese have been building cost-effective subsea tunnels for decades as replacements for ferry services. The details are published for all to see. We don’t even consider it, not even for the busiest ferry crossing in Scotland. Why not?

        The answer has nothing to do with technical or economic feasibility. It’s not ridiculous, it’s certainly not a laughing matter. (Not when an underused public sector ferry has been swallowing up my money and yours to the tune of £3 million a year in subsidies.) It’s to do with priorities.

        But if, by a miracle of prioritisation, coupled to some sort of political madness, the £40 million FAG ferries wishlist (not forgetting the ongoing ad infinitum £3 million p.a. subsidy they’ll require) moves to the top of the public spending agenda, then I surely hope the tunnel option is properly costed and given due consideration by the SG before a single penny more of public money is committed to the subvention of this service.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

        • PM, some time ago on these pages I suggested a tunnel as an obvious option worth investigating, and I was greeted with scorn, contempt and derision by Ferryman & co, so I drew the conclusion that some of the Dunoon folk who suffer from an inadequate passenger link to Gourock are doing their own cause no favours at all.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

          • I was sceptical when a tunnel was first mooted, paralleling the proposal with the fantasmagorical caper which is the new Forth bridge procurement (£2 billion, then £3.5 billion, then magically approved for a bid of only £750 million but, lately, reported at coming in at £1.5 billion). The huge range of figures fed to us, in incremental steps the scale of which could accommodate the entire overblown Edinburgh tram project, and the fact that we don’t even need it any more, suggests to me that the politicians who dealt with this have been completely out of their depth in these matters. Since the ministers involved with the Forth bridge “problem” (Libdem and SNP) have been almost without exception lawyers, I’m not surprised. It truly is a scandal of the first order and I’m surprised the press and the current opposition let them off with it.

            IF we could do the tunnel to Nordic standards of technical and fiscal professionalism, that’s IF, then a tunnel is certainly a viable option, having a payback period of only three or four years when the current ferry fares and subsidies are aggregated.

            But, as you say, Robert, scorn, lazy derision and unfounded contempt are the rewards for pointing this out.

            Bear in mind though, a reasoned rebuttal would require effort and intelligence. That won’t be forthcoming. I’m more and more inclined to the view that this entire decades long fiasco is rooted in personalities, points scoring and petty politics and has nothing at all to do with reason.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

        • All these old steamer ports hate car ferries and the new routes that enlightened companies like Western Ferries cleave out and, shock horror, make a profit from operating.
          We slate Calmac for their receipt of government subsidies, but the ports have had too much say in the rollercoaster waste of public money for the last fifty years or so since the car ferry arrived and continued ploughing the same old steamer furrows that old David MacBrayne himself ploughed a hundred years before them.

          I agree that a tunnel would be a fantastic boost to anyone who wants to see a new dawn in access to Argyll, Kintyre and the islands beyond. Western could move their operation to Loch Fyne for a few years while another crossing was built there thence to Jura and Islay, ad infinitum, well, not quite but you get my drift.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  23. Apparently the consultants were “told” to go and “speak” to the owner of the Clyde Clipper. The DFAG are pushing to have the MV Coruisk, aka the Lego Boat, put on the route for an extended trial, and emphasised that it would only carry passengers. The Isle of Arran was also mentioned as a possible ship to trial on the route. The tender process is the next step, along with discussions with possible service providers for the route, plus petitions. Seems the Government are going to be pushed to take the “proposals” onwards and upwards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Despite insistences from one of the panel of ‘experts’ last night to the contrary, the Isle of Arran is supposed to be used as the extra boat at Oban this coming winter, as mentioned in the Scottish Gov’s Ferry Plan published last winter.

      With regard to ‘experts’, remember what Plato said.
      (From Wikipedia: Plato did not believe most people were clever enough to look after their own and society’s best interest, so the few “clever” people of the world needed to lead the rest of the flock. Therefore, the idea was born that only the elite should know the truth in its complete form and the rulers, Plato said, must tell the people of the city “The Noble Lie” to keep them passive and content, without the risk of upheaval and unrest.)

      Are we being spoon-fed “The Noble Lie” to keep us quiet?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    • Why do they need the Coruisk, when there is a replacement bus?

      Whilst there maybe costs associated with laying the vessel up over the winter, the operational costs will be higher

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  24. Please follow this sad and sorry tale to its conclusion

    “Dunoon Lad says:
    July 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Well, the public meeting was very poorly attended tonight. Around 200 turned up”

    It is so encouraging that people like “Dunoon Lad” turn up at public meetings and are so enthused by considering
    the contents of an 80 page report commented upon by Chartered Accountants that they feel motivated to forgo a very rare pleasant evening to post a comment a mere 2 hours later – I went home and had a beer (note he said 200 people were present)

    Goodness gracious that meeting must have been HOT, I must have missed something. A mere 14 minutes after Dunoon Lad’s post we we hear;

    “Jim Williamson says:
    July 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    I only counted around 80 folk there, DunoonLad. ”

    Obviously Dunoon Lad’s Vision is poor, but fortunately Jim has dashed home to set us right and knock a 120 or more of the attendees.

    However there is a problem, Peter being clairvoient and realising that Dunoon Lad is seriously off message by announcing that over 200 people could be bothered to turn up on a perfectly nice evening to wonder why their town was being destroyed posted;

    “Peter Wade says:
    July 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    There were only about 100 at the meeting.”
    Apart from that you are dead right.”

    Good. Note the timing – simultaneous. Note the adjustment of the figures. Two hundred or more is alarming accurate (more chairs hat to be set out, enough papers were not printed). Eighty is far too obviously false.

    I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about what is going on here.

    It is a bit like a soap opera are ‘Dunoon Lad’, ‘Jim Williamson’ and ‘Peter Wade’ real people?

    If they are real were they triplets separated at birth?
    Perhaps they are aliens? What else explains their uncanny timing responding to events?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    • Perhaps, Ferryman, instead of slanging other people, you’d do your own cause more good by adopting a more constructive attitude rather than wallowing in self-pity (‘while their town was being destroyed’ – really?) and lashing out in sour and childish diatribes.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  25. Not sure £50,000 was worth the pain of getting mixed up in this hornets nest. Whatever outcome the consultants would have arrived at the opposing view would have slated it. And whether Western have inside information or not, really, what operator would decide that the hassle of running any contracted route offered is worth the messily returns that the business is likely to offer? There would be far more attractive places for a company to invest its money and effort than bidding to operate this route on simple reputation and PR value grounds alone.

    The consultants could have blown a budget 10x the size with an exhaustive study and I’ve no doubt the arguments from either side would be no different.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

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