(Updated below) ‘Yet another fiasco’, is how Jackie Baillie, describes the latest incident with the Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry serving the Rosneath peninsula in her constituency.
Ms Baillie claims – and has given us the photographs that show it, that this week passengers travelling on the Island Princess were left stunned as the skipper attempted to set sail from Kilcreggan pier whilst still tethered to the mooring post.
This is a manoeuvre which has the capacity to imperil the structural integrity of both the pier and the boat.
It is the latest in a series of errors from Clydelink, the operating company selected to operate the service on behalf of SPT from 1st April 2012.
The MSP says that since then sailings have been cancelled on a number of occasions, with only two of these cancellations being weather related instances.
Last month Ms Baillie met with SPT’s chief executive, Gordon Maclennan and other officers along with users of the Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry service and Greenock MSP Duncan McNeil to try and find a solution to this on-going saga.
She now says: ‘Enough is enough. SPT really need to get a grip of this situation.
‘Since SPT awarded the tender to Clyde link in April it has been one thing after another blighting this service.
‘I would urge SPT to call for a full investigation into this matter. It is clear that awarding a contract based on lowest cost does not prove for a reliable and fully functional service.
It is clear from FOI responses that passengers have received that Clydelink have failed to adhere to the majority of their contract.
‘Passengers were promised a new 60-seater vessel, but instead are being ferried from Gourock to Kilcreggan in a 16-year-old boat which has broken down on several occasions.
‘Clydelink is clearly in breach of contract and I would expect SPT, at the very least, to issue penalties, and if the service does not make an immediate improvement, to find a replacement operator.
‘SPT has a duty of care and they need to step up to the plate and provide my constituents with a safe and reliable service.’
Speaking about the latest ferry incident, one local resident said:
‘The boat was actually stopped by the rope. By the shouts of the crew it appeared that there was little control of the boat. After several minutes we moved back to the pier where the rope was removed. Is this proper seamanship?’
No it is not. Having once been in an incident of this kind and having seen the damage to the boat and the potential damage to those onboard caused by accelerating away while still tied to a fixed berthing bollard, we are aware just how fortunate the outcome of this incident has been. From the photographs it would seem that the crew spotted this error in time to prevent the Island Princess accelerating away.
In a public service, this simply should never happen.
Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) have reacted to Ms Baillie’s call, saying:
‘We are aware of passenger comments which are being reported widely out of context. SPT takes the safety of passengers very seriously and the operator assured us that the rope was deliberately left in place as an added security measure to bring the vessel back to berth and reinstate mooring lines which had become loose. The service then continued as usual.’
Jackie Baillie has responded saying:
‘This takes the prize for the most absurd quote of the year, given that the ferry was leaving not berthing.
‘It is clear that SPT are all at sea over this issue.’
The logic so far is with Jackie Baillie. SPT have no knowledge of seamanship, with this ferry they don’t really want the only such service in their portfolio. We can see no immediatelysupportable scenario in what they are saying here.
Note: Here are relevant background documents to this issue:
- The SPT minute on 29th January 2012 of its proposed renewal lof the Kilcreggan-Gourock fery service: KilcregganFerry-Attachment 1
- SPT’s Conditions of Contract for a Subsidised Ferry Service: KilcregganFerry-Attachment 2