They really don’t learn – not Transport Scotland, not CalMac and not, apparently, Campbeltown.
The three year pilot provision of a sumer season ferry service between Ardrossan in Ayrshire and Campbeltown in Kintye which ended in 2015 – hugely expensive and a failure by any sane judgment – was made a permanent commitment for political reasons.
In truth, what the service might deliver has never been tested.
The timetable for the pilot period was not remotely the economic development instrument it should have been – which, as an experiment measured against set criteria to establish the value of the contribution it made [which was not done] – would have justified the assignment of substantial public monies.
The timetable was no more than a lifestyle-support for residents of Campbeltown and Kintyre, enabling a full day return shopping trip to Glasgow every Friday – and thereby taking money and economic activity OUT of the struggling area.
The entire provision did not offer a single incoming day return trip for visitors to Ayrshire to get a sense of Campbeltown. Anyone wishing to try out the town as inexpensively as possible could not do so without the additional expense of – not one – but TWO nights’ B&B.
The side offer of a connection to the Isle of Arran was also scheduled to suit the needs of Arran and not Kintyre – providing only a single calling in at Brodick on Arran FROM Campbeltown on Saturdays; and then carrying on to Ardrossan. This added to the Arran schedule of mainland sailings; and while making it possible for Kintyre folk or visitors to go to Arran, it did not offer any return service on that – or on any other day.
This entire schedule was configured on covertly taking from not giving seriously to Kintyre.
Of the two single passages in the total of six weekly sailings, one arrived in Campbeltown at 21.20 on Thursday nights; and one left Campbeltown at 07.00 on Saturdays.
The two sailings in the second weekly return from Ardrossan on Sundays offered precisely 25 minutes in Campbeltown – not enough time to leave the terminal building but enough, perhaps, to take a quick panoramic photograph of the Campbeltown seafront while standing in line to get back on the boat. This arrived in Campbeltown at 16.30 on Sunday afternoon and left again at 16.55.
After For Argyll’s immediate initial analysis of the endemic inability of this timetable to offer any strategic economic development whatsoever to Kintyre – and after three years of miserably inadequate carrying figures over the pilot period, when the service was nevertheless dolloped into permanence from the political pork barrel [it’s only public money] there was universal acceptance of the financial and economic indefensibility of the schedule.
Things were to change, they said.
But no, they haven’t.
The timetable published for the 2016 summer season is exactly the same as the scandalously useless three pilot timetable.
Not responsibility by the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland for delivering best value for public money; not Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council joint responsibility for the economic development of Kintyre; and not Campbeltown’s responsibility to get its own shoulder to that wheel instead of simply taking additional and wholly insupportable lifestyle support from the Scottish taxpayer has been enough, even together, to create an acceptable timetable.
We are now looking at least at one more year of an knowing waste of public money on this ‘service’ – public money at a volume for which Scotland – if not the SNP Scottish Government – has other urgent uses, not least in its failing health and failing education services.