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
- A83 closed both ways at Rest and Be Thankful
Here we go again. The problem is that, as a member of the regular travelling public on the A83, I can no longer depend on the route being open from one day to the next.
Land slips certainly appear to be occurring more frequently on the stretch of the A83 over the Rest and down beyond Butterbridge. The one good point is that the fencing that has been erected on the hillside at the Rest appears to have stopped larger rubble and boulders getting on to the road. This means that it should be possible to clear any material that gets on to the road much quicker which should minimise any closures.
Having said that, we should not forget that the rubble and boulders behind the fences will have to be removed at some stage and this will create further delays for the travelling public.
The latest update from BEAR at 10.45 am confirms that the emergency route through Glen Croe is now in operation. The problem being that they have highlighted that the delays in using this route will be up to 45 minutes. I am assuming that this is a conservative estimate.
Given the potential for a 45 minute delay, I would certainly be better just using the traditional detour via Crianlarich and Tyndrum as this only adds up to 30 minutes on to the journey to Lochgilphead. By using this route, at least I would be assured as to how long it was going to take me to travel to Lochgilphead and I could plan my journey accordingly.
It may be that I could arrive at the emergency route just as the convoy is leaving and would get through Glencroe with minimum delay (15 minutes). The problem is that it is likely that I would be at the end of a long stream of traffic including lorries / busses etc and would have to follow this long slow stream of traffic most of the way to Lochgilphead. If I arrive at Glencroe just after the convoy has left, then I know that I am going to have to wait at least 45 minutes before the next convoy can get me through Glencroe.
It really is time that the Scottish Government took this matter seriously and planned for investment that will address this problem once and for all. I should also point out that no extra trains are planes to Oban are going to assist me in any way when the A83 is closed and I need to travel to the Mid Argyll or Kintyre area.
- So how did this peninsular community NOT win the Creative Places award?
It was with great disappointment that I heard that the submission by the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust to the Creative Places Awards was just pipped at the post.
Those members of the Trust who put in so much time and effort to take this bid forward on behalf of all the communities across the Rosneath Peninsula have got to be congratulated for getting to the final stage of the Creative Places Awards.
I would encourage everyone to view the outstanding video that was included as part of their submission. Dave Dunbar, who shot and cut the video, is to be congratulated for a great piece of work which the Trust will be able to use to promote the Rosneath Peninsula in the future.
Congratulation to everyone concerned.
- Storm in a bathtub as Neil Kay goes over the side of the Expert Ferry Group
I have tried via the Scottish Government’s website and Transport Scotland’s website to establish details of all members of this Group. Unfortunately I have had no success. Maybe someone can point me in the right direction?
It is noted that the report in today’s Herald and the FA report above states that there are two ferry operators represented on the Group. My understanding is that this is NOT correct. I have been told that Gordon MacLennan, Chief Executive of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is a member of the Group. As most readers will be aware, SPT is also a ferry operator as they are responsible for the Gourock – Kilcreggan ferry service.
Given the problems that our local communities experienced in the past relating to SPT and the Gourock – Kilcreggan ferry service, I am sure that this will raise some concerns locally as to what recommendations will eventually be forthcoming from this Group? Is this just a way of placing ferry issues on the back burner until after the next Scottish Government election?
No matter who is on this Group, it is essential that they are able to look at wider ferry issues and are not being parochial, and are not trying to influence decisions relating to a single ferry service.
- Shuffling the pack at Kilmory
Simon, although your comments are often spot on, on this occasion you have got it wrong. Although I know of others who have made such statements, I have never done so. Can you indicate where I made such a statement in the past please?
I believe that you should never burn your bridges as you never know when you will have to make a tactical retreat. A brief apology would suffice.
- Shift in perspective on Council Tax freeze – but is it being managed?
Graeme, you may not like it but the facts speak for themselves. I was there and I can confirm that of the 80 people in the room, only 6 supported the ongoing Council Tax freeze. This was not a hand-picked audience but were random individuals from all across Scotland. There was no comment or argument on the numbers from Rob Gibson SNP MSP who was on the political panel.
As an individual, I do not support the Council Tax freeze when I see services being cut as a result. As a property lawyer, you certainly would not be classed as vulnerable and will not have seen the worst of the service cuts. Why do you think the Council was proposing the closure of Struan Lodge Elderly Care Home? Why are we currently consulting on the massive cuts that have had to be imposed on the Amenity Services budget? The list goes on and on.
It is clear that without the Counil Tax freeze, service cuts would not be as severe as they are.
Although the freezing of the Council Tax sounds good, over the past seven years, the total saved by the average Band A Council Tax payer is only £258 (70p per week) whereas the wealthy in their Band H properties are saving £4-22p per week (six times the saving being achived by those at the lower end of the wealth scale).
I think that it is quite clear from these figures that it is the wealthy who benefit most from the SNPs policy on freezing the Council Tax.
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