Is it really the case that these workers …

Comment posted Job losses of established staff follow SPT’s change of operator of Kilcreggan Ferry by Baffled.

Is it really the case that these workers have nothing in their job description apart from one ferry service? If that is not true, they are not ‘literally redundant’ and this article is very damaging.
And what about other issues concerning maintenance and access at the pier? Arrangements for the Waverley?

Recent comments by Baffled

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    ‘I wanted to win in front of my home crowd’ – in London. Your views, Alec?
  • Councillors Freeman and Robb get unanimous council approval for urgent motion on Kilcreggan ferry
    The ‘new’ boat cannot move at the required speed and is too small for all the passengers to sit inside – see this from Cove and Kilcreggan community council –
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  • Seabus campaigner raises serious questions on ClydeLink Ltd’s financial ability to build new ferry
    A couple of quick comments about this article which, despite being 1100 words long, doesn’t add as much it might to the debate.
    • How can a ‘campaigner’ be anonymous? It’s make the job a bit difficult I’d have thought
    • The same man who runs Clydelink also runs a very well known boatyard locally which is an entirely separate business, so it isn’t difficult to guess how the building of the new boat might work – hence it isn’t a matter of Clydelink ‘on its own’
    • Whoever won a new tender under such a timescale, unless they already had a suitable boat or two plus crew sitting about idly (which hardly makes commercial sense) would struggle hugely to get everything ready in less than three months. Why is the timescale so short?
    • Finally, do we know for certain that the decision by SPT’s operations committee is final, and doesn’t have to be ratified by another meeting, as with councils?
  • Robb concerned at change to payment requirement for Helensburgh developer
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26 Responses to Is it really the case that these workers …

  1. Is it really the case that these workers have nothing in their job description apart from one ferry service? If that is not true, they are not ‘literally redundant’ and this article is very damaging.
    And what about other issues concerning maintenance and access at the pier? Arrangements for the Waverley?

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    • We cannot compromise the staff concerned by trying to speak to them – they are still council employees.

      If there are other responsibilities in their job descriptions, they might form the basis for whatever redeployment may be in the frame, should that be acceptable.

      We are aware that the Council told the Helensburgh Advertiser that there were no planned redundancies, with the men receiving their redundancy notices on the heels of that statement.

      This can safely be read as the cowardly action of a paranoid council culture, knowing it would get hammered for these job losses but realistically having little alternative.

      We thought about the Waverley of course – but it visits Kilcreggan very seldom and would not make a job.

      As for maintenance, these days, with the unmanned piers which are the majority, maintenance will be done by a team sent in following a periodic inspection.

      The issue here is the length of the perid.

      CalMac have been having real difficulties with the Craignure jetty on Mull, which is council owned and whch is in a bad way.

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  2. Councillor Freeman, Gerald Gaffney (representing Coulport and Faslane Ferry Users) and myself had the promised face-to-face meeting yesterday with both the Chief Executive, and Deputy Chief Executive of SPT facilitated by Argyll and Bute Council following my return from Tenerife.
    My particular concern was financial in that ClydeLink with a Net Worth of £22000 as at June 2011 had undertook to have built a 60 seater ferry to be available on the 1st April and I was interested to ascertain what financial due diligence was undertaken to have proof that the funds to do so were available. To my great surprise none was done in that SPT simply rely upon the operator to deliver the service as promised or be replaced!! That approach obviously can work with bus companies but not with a ferry operator where any change can deprive a community of its essential service until a new operator can be found with suitable vessels and crew meeting the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s strict regulations.
    On the question of the possible redundancies it would appear that Clydelink saves circa £20000 per annum on pier dues by doing its own berthing. Thanks to Councillor Freeman a Risk Assessment is now to be undertaken which may save the Kilcreggan jobs.
    At the meeting Mr Aikman of Clyedlink confirmed that a ferry is in the process of being built!!
    An added problem for all ferry users (assuming there is a ferry) will be the decision of Calmac Marine Assets (the owners of the Gourock Pier) to close the Kilcreggan Ferry landing stage for 12 months with the possibility that a temporary landing will take place some 200 meters to the East. GREAT!!!!

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    • So, to sum up, SPT doesn’t believe in exercising ‘Due Diligence’ before they let a contract (‘not our job’?), the Kilcreggan ferry users haven’t been informed of the details of the new ferry (‘who do they think they are?’), and for 12 months people will have an extra 200 metres to walk to reach the train at Gourock (‘so what?’).
      I’m beginning to understand why the government removed SPT from control of the Glasgow suburban train network. I wonder if there are any other aspects of SPT’s ‘mission statement’ (?) that are still to surface from the depths?

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  3. As a once regular user of this service I’m saddened at the neglect both if people and facilities.

    The pier at kilcreggan is absolutely stunning however the boarding point at gourock is drab, windswept and unsuitable unless the sun is shining.

    Gourock is a fantastic little town with a wonderful lido, a restraunt which sells a gourmet burger to die for and an acing promenade for walking or running. It’s a crying shame that the station has become so run down.

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  4. It seems that Argyll & Bute Council are, as usual, taking the short sighted approach. They do not seem to have any interest in their residents of the Roseneath Peninsula or Helensburgh area. The Gourock/Kilcreggan/Helensburgh ferry is a link for people on the Roseneath Peninsula to enable them to travel quickly to Inverclyde or to work further afield in Paisley or Glasgow. Students of Reid Kerr College, visitors of the hospital, dentists, bankers, journalists, musicians, artists, engineers, consultants, surveyors are just a few of the commuters using the ferry service.

    SPT have shown that their only interest in running this ferry is to look at cost and not condisder why or for what purpose people travel this route. They have admitted to running this service on a purely financial basis with no knowledge of or concern for health and safety of passengers by awarding the contract to an operator who had not taken into account the variance in tides and winds and the draught required to sail regularly in varying conditions.

    Argyll & bute Council have been conspicuous in their absence of comment during this debate and have finally shown their had by making the pier staff redundant. They have obviously no concern in the local community and how vital this pier is and should be to the community or how much more it could be utilised. In many major cities in the world the river is seen as a vital and imprtant link for commuters, travellers and visitors to the area. SPT and Argyll & Bute have taken no responsibility to promote and encourage a better usage of this ferry link. It is not advertised widely orindeed recommended by Visit Scotland, or Argyll & Bute Council. It is a ferry service and a pier just waiting to be abandoned. With the redundancies of the 3 pier masters at Kilcreggan this is another death knell in the life of this service and the use of The Clyde.

    Encouraging greater usage of this service would help reduce car traffic on the roads of a Peninsula that is becoming the land that Argyll & Bute Council wish to forget.

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    • It’s as if the authorities are turning their backs on this area and hoping it’ll just disappear. There’s a chance for the government to take the lead, for Alex & co to realise that there’s more to building a country than cultivating the fat cats of dubious integrity and realise that they have a duty of constructive care for communities that seem to be subject to destructive neglect. Just what have SPT and Argyll & Bute Council done to foster links between communities on the lower Clyde that grew up around efficient, integrated ferry links that are being allowed to wither away and die in the face of the motor car? The cost of driving is going nowhere but up, and if ever there was a time for realising that these places need robust and affordable ferry links if they’re to prosper, it’s now. Alex, forget the Trumps and Murdochs as role models and remember what Robert Burns had to say about the real people, because they’re who you’re ultimately accountable to.

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  5. The proposed new contract for the Gourock – Kilcreggan ferry service was discussed at length at a meeting of Cove & Kilcreggan Community Council (CC) on 14 February. The meeting was attended by over 70 concerned members of the public. Those attending with me included Gerry Gaffney of the Ferry Users Group and Cllrs Billy Petrie and Daniel Kelly as the other two ward councillors.

    Following a lengthy discussion, during which a wide range of concerns were raised, it was agreed that a meeting would be requested with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT). It was agreed that those who would attend the meeting with SPT would include Nick Davies – Chair of the CC, myself as local councillor, Gerry Gaffney from the Ferry Users Group (who also has a great deal of technical knowledge) and Harry Cathcart who first raised this issue with me and who has a wide ranging financial background.

    Prior to the meeting with SPT, I submitted further questions and FOI requests to SPT and information was gathered from Argyll & Bute Council (A&BC) and from other sources. As a result of the information gathered, I discovered that discussions on the renewal of the contract had been ongoing with Council officers and some councillors from as far back as May 2011. We also discovered that meetings took place with SPT and certain councillors at Blairmore in June 2011 when it was clear that there was an attempt to try and include Blairmore in the new contract.

    I also discovered that Council officers had made the Chair of the Helensburgh & Lomond Area Committee aware of the threat to the Helensburgh link as far back as early November 2011. I asked the other 9 local councillors and Cllr Duncan MacIntyre if they were made aware of the threat to the Helensburgh link by the Chair of the Area Committee or by Council officers in November 2011. Four confirmed that like me, they only found out about the proposed change in January 2012. Unfortunately the other five local councillors and Cllr Duncan MacIntyre have not responded. It now appears that no political action was taken since November 2011 to try and ensure the Helensburgh link was retained.

    The meeting with SPT took place on 29 February. Those representing SPT and the Council at the meeting were Gordon MacLennan (SPT Chief Executive) plus two of his officers, Cllr Duncan MacIntyre – SPT’s A&BC representative, Cllr Vivien Dance – Chair of Helensburgh & Lomond Area Committee and Cllr Daniel Kelly. Also attending was Mark Aikman from Clydelink who is due to take over the contract as from 1 April 2012.

    At the start of the meeting, Harry Cathcart raised a number of financial issues with regards to Clydelink. He also stated that he considered that SPT had not fulfilled their responsibilities relating to the need for due diligence when awarding this contract. Questions were asked about financial checks undertaken by SPT and the funding of the construction costs of the new ferry.

    Clydelink informed the meeting that the new ferry was currently being built at Southampton and is expected to be in place by 1 April 2012. Concerns were raised that although Clydelink had been dealing with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at Southampton, no contact had been made with the MCA at Greenock who will have to approve the use of the new ferry on the route. Given these and other concerns that were highlighted, SPT directed Clydelink to make urgent contact with MCA Greenock to try and resolve these issues.

    There was considerable discussion relating to the specification/class of the new vessel. Clydelink advised that the new vessel will be built to Merchant Shipping Notice 1699(M) Class V. Gerry Gaffney advised Clydelink that the Seabus was built to the EU Directive for Domestic Passenger Vessels (EU Directive 98/18) which is a much higher specification than Class 5 and the one which Clyde Marine had adopted as being appropriate for the Gourock – Kilcreggan route. SPT directed Clydelink to obtain information on the Directive with a view to having any improvements/modifications carried out on the new vessel before 1 April.

    Gerry Gaffney then presented information relating to the dimensions of the proposed new ferry against the SEABUS, the Argyle Flyer and the Ali Cat and provided information on the number of cancellations for each of these vessels during Nov and Dec 2011. Based on the information available, concerns were highlighted that the number of cancellations due to adverse weather conditions could increase significantly when the new ferry was in service. The Clydelink representative stated that with regards to cancellations, he could not say what level of service he would be able to deliver. This is clearly a concern with regards to the reliability of the new service.

    Clydelink confirmed that they had a Plan B and Plan C if the new vessel was not available for the 1st April. Plan B was a Class 5 specification vessel currently based in Oban. Plan C was the use of two ribs running back and forward across the river. SPT was advised that as the vessel based in Oban is a Class 5, it will also require improvements/modifications to bring it up to the EU Directive prior to being brought into service on the Gourock – Kilcreggan route.

    We received confirmation from Clydelink that the ferry will be berthed by the crew using boat hooks. This is the reason why Council staff who currently carry out this work have been informed that they could be redeployed or even made redundant. Clydelink confirmed that the proposed berthing procedure would reduce their costs by £20,000. Cllr MacIntyre informed those present that he had only become aware of the potential implications for Council staff that morning.

    With reference to an upcoming problem for berthing at the Kilcreggan Steps at Gourock, it was confirmed that a solution to the berthing problem had not been finalised. Although a proposal to berth 200 metres from the current location had been suggested, no decision had yet been taken on this issue.

    Concerns were also raised during the meeting with regards to a number of other issues including projected passenger numbers, subsidy figures, risk assessments and changes to the berthing arrangements.

    I hope that this information helps to bring readers up to date on this issue and also highlights why the community has serious concerns about the safety and reliability of the proposed new service.

    Further information on this issue continues to come to light on a daily basis and I have no doubt that this issue has still got some way to run. Watch this space.

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    • Which leaves an outside observer wondering whether politicians at both central and local government level mught have been placing far to much faith in SPT. Easy to say with hindsight, but then I think there were warning signs when some senior officials were brought to book for being more interested in what SPT could do for them than what it was doing for public transport. And the Holyrood government stripped SPT of control of the Strathclyde region suburban train system – that wasn’t just down to party political hubris, was it?

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  6. Although Clydelink stated categorically at the meeting with SPT last week that the ferry would be a new vessel, was currently being built in Southampton and had not been in service before, information that has now come to hand that suggests this may not be a new vessel.

    One of the recommendations at the SPT Operations Committee on 20 January was that: (5) recommending that following re-advertisement of the service, contract 1923C1 Gourock – Kilcreggan ferry service be awarded to Clydelink Ltd at a cost of £874,760 for the contract period 1 April 2012 to 1 April 2017, based on the provision of a new build 60 seat vessel.

    Given that this recommendation was accepted and the decision to award the contract to Clydelink was therefore based on “the provision of a new build 60 seat vessel”, if the ferry is not new, then this would fail to comply with the Operations Committee decision.

    SPT have been asked to investigate as a matter of urgency.

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    • Surely telling porkies to win a contract would only stack up if the contract administrator was porky-tolerant, so it’ll be interesting to see how SPT handle this.

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  7. SPT travel bus is at Kilcreggan today.

    they are giving out A4 printed copies of the new timetable.

    it is full of errors, times are unreadable.

    it is a little over 3 weeks to go and SPT havent even umdated their website.

    piss up in brewery spring to mind!

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  8. Following our concerns outlined at the meeting with SPT on the 29th February it is to recommend to its Operations Committee on Friday 9th March to award grant of £80000 + VAT to Clydelink to pay for improvements to the vessel (What vessel you may ask!). This is a joke and highlights SPT’s complete lack of experience on maritime matters. I am sure the current operators will be taking legal advice on its ability to vary the contract.

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  9. Reading that Clydelink’s ‘Plan C’ to use fast RiB’s from pier to pier if their supposed ‘new’ boat isn’t ready WITH MCA Greenock certification , is a proper laugh , they have to be joking right??. Surely the MCA would simply not allow such drivel , with the safety at lives at sea is concerned , if ordinary Kilcreggan ferry passengers wanted a ‘thrill-seeking ride’ , they would pay for it. With the new boat still down in Southampton , at what state of build? , Clydelink have now got 22 days to get her up on the Clyde and do extensive sea trials before she is certificated….. place your bets!!

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    • Just heard that ferry passengers are to embark/disembark at the Gamble Steps in Gourock some 300 metres from the Seabus landing stage for 12 months from 1st April!!! It only gets worse for our users. Where are our Argyll and Bute Councillors who should be robustly protecting their constituents interests?.

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  10. I am assuming that Harry is not including me when he ask “where are our Argyll and Bute Councillors who should be robustly protecting their constituents interests” as I have been working very closely with him on this issue over the past two months. As Harry is well aware, on issues such as this, I am like a dog with a bone. As Harry is also aware, questions have been put to our local councillors recently as to who knew what and when on this issue. Unfortunately a number have not answered the question for some reason.

    Prior to the current problem with the ferry, I worked with Harry to ensure that those who are disabled and used the ferry could purchase their tickets on the train. Until then, Scotrail insisted that that they should go to the ticket office after coming off the ferry to purchase their tickets before getting on the train. This caused them to walk past the train to buy their ticket and by the time they did that, their train had often left.

    As to the comments from Dave Forbes, I can assure him that Clydelink were absolutely serious when they said that their Plan C was to run ribs across the Clyde. I agree that I do not believe that MCA would approve such a proposal.

    The main question at the moment is whether the proposed Clydelink vessel is a new build ferry or not. Although the decision to give the contract to Clydelink was based on the ferry being a new build vessel, the indications at this time are that it is not new build. Unfortunately SPT appear to be dragging their heals in asking MCA for information relating to this question.

    Given some of the information that has been brought to my attention over the past 18 hours, it would not surprise me if the report to the SPR Operations Committee requesting a grant of £80,250 plus VAT for Clydelink on Friday morning was withdrawn. WATCH THIS SPACE.

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    • If SPT were up to speed ferry passengers would buy their train ticket on the ferry, or even be able to buy a combined ferry+train ticket, and there would be no nonsense about having to traipse down to the station ticket office and then back to the train. Train+ferry and train+bus tickets are commonplace in the civilised world, so what world does SPT inhabit?

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    • Sorry George. As we all well know Councillor Freeman has been extremely active in all of the issues surrounding the ferry service. My comments relate to all of the others who have done little to protect either the jobs of the Pier staff (for safety reasons and protection of the infrastructure), or ensuring that essential ferry users have a safe/reliable/comfortable ferry manned by experienced crew.

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  11. Interesting comments – just wondered if the poor gentleman who worked at Helensburgh still has a job -locally.,,and, is there no hope at all of any sailings from Helensburgh to Gourock/Greenock even in the Summer months.
    Is it really the end of an era??

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    • Ideally it should be the end of the SPT era, with the future of Clyde passenger ferries entrusted to those with the vision to see the long term value in fostering a useful, reliable system – and the competence, integrity and determination to see their function as not just feathering their own nests while the services steadily decay through official neglect – Scotland’s not in the third world, is it?.

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  12. It seems from another packed Cove & Kilcreggan community council meeting on Tuesday night that the from information recieved from MCA SPT and others in the know that there WONT be any ferry service from 1st April. SPT have been asked if Clydelink fail to produce a boat, would Clyde Marine continue to run the service until its sorted out? I understand that the reply was simply, NO!

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  13. Any new boat would certainly have to ‘work-up’ and extensive trials would have to be carried out. Clydelink surely doesn’t have experience in handling passenger vessels in heavy swells and moor their vessels first time or this wouldn’t reassure the passengers as to their own personal safety. It’s OK going across the narrows of the upper Clyde but a whole different ball game down at the Tail o’ the Bank and not to have personnel there to collect the ropes ashore is total nonsense. Will Clydelink’s crews have the essential certifications?

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