1. Meeting with CalMac
The committee had been pleased to engage in a wide-ranging discussion with MD Robbie Drummond and Group Communications Director Stuart Wilson. They were impressed by Robbie's strategic approach and his willingness to collaborate. With numerous points discussed, it was agreed that a list of agreed action points would be forwarded to Stuart Wilson. An abbreviated summary, highlighting these action points, would be submitted to the Arran Banner.
Gavin Fulton challenged Robbie's assertion regarding the knock-on effect of lengthy diversions to Gourock on the subsequent timetable. He pointed out that the winter timetable remained the same. It was agreed to press for at least one return sailing to Gourock during winter days when Ardrossan was unusable due to adverse weather.
2. Participation in Ardrossan Task Force
Sharon Shenhav had prepared our formal legal Appeal to participate, complete with Exhibits. Gavin signed this for submission. It was agreed that we would contact Karen Yeomans once our appeal had been received, requesting an update from her perspective of the proposed works.
3. Concession Ticketing
John Ford had received a further response from Robbie Drummond, following our recent meeting. He felt there was still some reluctance to adopt his simple procedure to streamline the purchase of tickets. It was agreed that he would again write to CalMac and also pen a letter to the Arran Banner to update island residents regarding our aspirations.
4. Collaboration with Other Islands
Robert Cumming reported that following a change of chair within the Mull Ferry Committee there were fresh moves afoot to bring about collaborative improvements. However, Islay, in particular, was subject to increasing business interests, necessitating a wider overview of the issues affecting all ferry routes. Since, currently, there appears to be no strategic plan, it is now a matter of urgency to work towards agreeing one. Somehow, it was felt, we had to find a way to persuade Government that it was in everyone's interests to think beyond five-year terms.
5. Treasurer's Report
John reported that, following our recent appeal, our supporters had responded magnificently and we currently had £1,845 in our account.
6. New Website
Chris Attkins presented a beta version of the new site being constructed by Peroosh. The committee were impressed by the site's simple functionality, especially the powerful search facility that can retrieve any historical data. The site is entirely compliant with GDPR and accessibility guidelines and will be ready to go online around mid-October, when the first newsletter would seek feedback from residents regarding any improvements they had noticed in our ferry service connectivity.
The current state of our lifeline ferry service shows it is not fit for purpose in terms of reliability, resilience and infrastructure. The Arran Ferry Action Group is a new and fully representative lobbying group, set up to represent Arran interests in demanding service improvements and accountability in future investment decisions.