Comment posted Councillors Freeman and Robb get unanimous council approval for urgent motion on Kilcreggan ferry by Councillor George Freeman.
The concerns of residents on the Rosneath Peninsula have continued to increase over the past two months at the apparent refusal of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) to take their fears about the future of the Gourock – Kilcreggan ferry service seriously.
These concerns were again discussed at length at the meeting of Cove & Kilcreggan Community Council on 13 March that saw the hall packed with concerned residents. Those attending were told by me that contrary to the line that SPT and Clydelink had taken over the past two months that there would be a new-build vessel on the route as from April, it had now been admitted that there was no new vessel and that the service would be provided by the Island Princes which is approximately 16 years old.
Because of the real fears within the community that there may be no vessel with a Passenger Certificate to provide this service at the start of the new contract on 1 April, I decided to submit an urgent motion to the Council meeting on 15 March asking for Council support in seeking assurances from SPT that they have plans in place to ensure that there will be no break in service between the old contract ending and the new contract starting, even if this meant SPT agreeing to extend the current contract.
As this was an urgent motion, I was aware that I had to ensure that it was competent and that I could also persuade the Convener of the Council that the matter was urgent before the Council would consider it. Thankfully I managed to get over these two hurdles and, having explained to the Council the grave concerns of the community and the impact that any break in the service would have on those individuals who have to travel across the Clyde to get to work, college and to health services, the Council agreed unanimously to support my motion. I was able to inform the Council that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at Greenock had confirmed to me just an hour before the Council meeting that the Island Princes did not have the appropriate Passenger Certificate that would allow it to operate on the Gourock to Kilcreggan route.
Because of the level of misinformation that we have received over the past two months on this issue, the community does not accept the statement from SPT that as it stands, they are confident that a service will run on 1 April. I am delighted at the number of people who have now come forward to campaign on behalf of the community. Locals are so frustrated by the dismissive attitude of SPT that a Facebook campaign “SAVE KILCREGGAN FERRY” has been set up by one of our dedicated campaigners which attracted almost 200 members in under 24 hours.
A protest is now planned to demonstrate the level of concern and show support for the pier staff who currently face the serious prospect of being made redundant as a result of the proposed new contract. Campaigners are confident of a good response from the community and ferry users who will meet at Kilcreggan Pier at 12pm on Saturday 24th of March.
I would encourage as many of your readers as possible to sign up to the Facebook cause / compaign PLEASE.
Councillor George Freeman also commented
- Bob, for your information, the Island Princes is not a new-build vessel as SPT and Clydelink have insisted over the past couple of months. She is now 16 years old.
Although we were told that she has a Passenger Certificate for Class IV operation for 96 passengers, it now transpires that she is only allowed to carry 74 passengers in the winter months. It has also been confirmed that all these passengers cannot be accommodated in the covered cabin. I certainly would not want to travel back and forward across the Clyde in the winter months without any shelter.
We do not know how many passengers the MCA at Greenock will approve for the Clyde which is a Class V Category C waters passenger route and is certainly not the sheltered waters of the Solent.
The Island Princess is also at least 2 knots slower than the existing vessel on the route. We are told that her sister vessel which is identical, cannot sail in a straight line but has to tack when underway. This will clearly add to the journey time.
The Island Princes is smaller that the current vessel on the route and only has a draft of 1.0 m, a beam of 5.0 m and is only 13.7 m long. MCA have confirmed that she currently does not have the relevant Passenger Certificate that would allow her to operate on the Gourock – Kilcreggan route at this time.
The new owner intends modifying the vessel prior to presenting her for certification. It is difficult to see how all this can be done prior to the contract start date on 1 April 2012.
Recent comments by Councillor George Freeman
- Meeting of interested parties on A83 makes Oliver Twist move on Transport Minister
As the Rest and Be Thankful is in my Lomond North electoral ward, I was surprised to read about this meeting which I had no knowledge of. Firstly, we need to remember that, although there are landslips beyond the Rest in the Cowal Ward in Argyll, the major problems with land slips are on the Rest itself, which is part of my Lomond North Ward, which also falls within the Arrochar & Tarbet Community Council area. Having said that, it has been the norm over recent years for local Ward councillors and the Community Council to be ignored when the problems at the Rest are being discussed.
Following the report on For Argyll, I tried to contact the other two ward councillors to confirm if they had been invited to the meeting. As I was told yesterday that Councillor Corry was currently in Sweden and was not available, I contacted Councillor Robert G MacIntyre, who also happens to be the Council’s Deputy Lead Councillor for Roads Issues, to ask if he was aware of the meeting. Councillor MacIntyre confirmed that he was contacted late on Thursday by Council staff to ask if he could attend the meeting. Given that the meeting was being held the next morning (Friday) at 10.30 am, this clearly gave him no time to consult with other ward councillors or the Community Council on what was due to be discussed. Given the short notice, it appears that the late invitation to Councillor MacIntyre to attend Friday’s meeting was an afterthought. How could Councillor MacIntyre be expected to speak on behalf of Argyll & Bute Council when he had not been given the opportunity to consult with the Council on the issues that were due to be discussed?
Most people tend to forget that the Rest and Be Thankful is NOT in Michael Russell’s Argyll & Bute constituency but is in Jackie Baillie’s Dumbarton constituency. Having contacted Jackie Baillie yesterday, she has confirmed to me that she “had not heard about the meeting”. I wonder what Michael Russell’s reaction would be if Jackie Baillie arranged a meeting in Arrochar to discuss an issue that was of major importance to Michael Russell and his constituents but did not give him the courtesy of an invitation or even informing him of the meeting? I doubt if Mr Russell would be been very happy.
It appears to me that the Scottish Government is still not taking the problems at the Rest seriously and are determined to spend as little as possible to try and keep the residents and businesses of Argyll & Bute happy. Would this sort of response be acceptable if this was happening in the central belt? I believe that it certainly would not be acceptable and that the Scottish Government would throw as much money at it as was required to resolve the problem. There again, I am sure that some of those in power think that this is only Argyll, a remote rural area with a small population which does not justify the expenditure required to provide a permanent solution to this problem.
We have heard in the past that there was no money allocated in the Scottish Government’s capital programme to provide a permanent solution at the Rest. That may have been acceptable within the three year spending review period at that time, but could not justify the Scottish Government failing to make provision within the new 3 year spending review period.
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For the avoidance of any doubt, and to reassure my constituents, I can confirm that I am NOT one of the councillors referred to in the Sunday Post yesterday as having had Council Tax arrears.
My Council Tax has always been payed on time and I have never been in arrears with Council Tax or any other payments to the Council. That reduces the number of councillors in Argyll & Bute to 35 that the Sunday Post could have been referring to.
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Neil, given the report in the Sunday Herald, it would appear that, in their opinion, you are now Leader of the Council? Either that, or it is down to the poor quality of the reporting in the Sunday Herald who obviously do not check their facts before running with a story.
It is good to note how disciplined and united your Group is within the Council under your leadership.
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Warmest congratulations to Neil MacIntyre for a successful campaign. I look forward to working constructively with him over the next three years.
We will now have four MacIntyres on the Council which will no doubt cause a bit more confusion. I just wonder if we will have another MacIntyre standing in the upcoming by-election in Ward 5 – Oban North and Lorn to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Louise Glen-Lee?
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Question, on that basis, Argyll no longer exists so why are we using it and why are folk promoting it?
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