SNP Members of the Scottish Parliament representing Scotland’s west coast island communities are seeking an urgent meeting with Scottish Ministers over ferries.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan, Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto and Cunninghame North MSP Kenny Gibson (whose constituency includes Arran and Cumbrae) have asked the Scottish Government for discussions on the service to island communities as a matter of urgency.
This comes as the date of return for CalMac’s largest vessel, the MV Loch Seaforth, has been pushed back for the fifth time to the end of May. Island communities have suffered reduced sailings and disrupted timetables as the ferry operator reshuffles its fleet.
CalMac’s second-largest vessel, the MV Isle of Lewis, also suffered technical difficulties over the weekend.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“This situation is becoming increasingly intolerable for island communities.
“CalMac simply does not have enough vessels for there to be proper cover when ships inevitably encounter technical issues. While the delay of the two vessels under construction at Port Glasgow has unfortunately had a big impact, we cannot go on like this or wait until 2023.
“The west coast needs additional ferries, whether they are built or chartered from elsewhere, as a matter of urgency.”
Jenni Minto MSP commented:
“This morning I began my journey back to Edinburgh from Islay on the MV Isle of Arran, which is 35 years old.
"The need for new ferries here in Argyll & Bute to ensure the vital services providing connections for our rural and island communities and businesses are both reliable and resilient, could not be more clear.
"I look forward to meeting with The Scottish Government and working to ensure our ferry fleet is fit for purpose timeously.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“Many of my Arran constituents and businesses are in despair at the current situation.
“Even once resolved, the next crisis will surely be just around the corner.
“Vessels are available in Europe to lease. Scottish Ministers, Transport Scotland, CMAL and CalMac need to check them out now, lease additional boats and ensure our island communities and businesses have the lifeline service they need, expect and deserve.”