Committee Meeting of the Arran Ferry Action Group

  • Minutes of Committee Meeting at Thistledo, 5th June 2019
  • Present: Gavin Fulton (Chair), Robert Cumming, John Ford (Treasurer), Sharon Shenhav, Sally Campbell, Sam Bourne (via video link), Chris Attkins (Secretary)
  • Apologies: Bob Haddow, Andrew Walsh

1. Strategy
In the light of the reply from CMAL to our recent letter, Gavin Fulton observed that most letters sent to those in specific positions of responsibility, and not only by the Arran Ferry Action Group, elicited a very poor response, if any at all. Robert Cumming thought it important that we continue to publicise all correspondence, enabling the public to see this for themselves. There was a general view that we should write to those in overall control, invoking Freedom Of Information where appropriate. With regard to Ardrossan, it was proposed that Robert would draft a letter to the chairman of the Ardrossan Task Force, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, asking to meet with him on the basis of representing nearly 1,000 people, to seek assurances that what is proposed for Ardrossan will deliver a more reliable, resilient ferry service to and from Arran.

Sharon Shenhav favoured a staged, more co-operative approach, first establishing our right to participate under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, for which the Arran Ferry Action Group is ideally qualified. She suggested that this route will gain access to all relevant information from those with whom we collaborate, in particular, North Ayrshire Council. To this end, she recommended meeting with the three Councillors representing Arran, individually, to seek their agreement for us to operate under the Community Empowerment Act. With their support, she believed the Arran Ferry Action Group will then be in a stronger position to approach government ministers. Sharon enquired how many households there are on Arran, with a view to expressing the proportion of households supporting the Group. Sam Bourne thought this an important statistic to bolster our credibility. Chris Attkins volunteered to ascertain this number.

Following her face-to-face communication with Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Sharon Shenhav had written to him updating him with progress on passenger assistance and the lack of progress with integrating bus and ferry timetables, also advising him of the formation of the Arran Ferry Action Group. She had summarised to him the widespread public dissatisfaction with the public transport service and ferry terminal and looked to him for help. Once our application for officially recognised participation is approved, she proposed following up with a further letter, expressing our hopes that the problems at Brodick are not replicated at Ardrossan, copying this to the constituent bodies of the Ardrossan Task Force.

Sam Bourne agreed that we need to be cooperative and prove our credibility in order to be accepted as a sensible, representative body. He warned that this may take time, but was an essential prerequisite. He echoed that transparency was a key element of this strategy, with the need to publish all correspondence on our website, ensuring that key messages are relayed to our MSPs and MP. Sam also made the point that we can't solve everything at once, but with reliability and resilience being the public's top priority, improving this must be the main objective for the Action Group.

Sally Campbell reiterated the need for collaboration, which inevitably takes time. Those in authority need time to think about our proposals and recognise the importance of standing alongside us.

Sam Bourne pointed out the need to reach the top people, build a case and present solutions.

Gavin Fulton thought the two proposals could be followed up together. There was a majority in favour of adopting this strategy.

2. Letter of Introduction
John Ford favoured multiple actions that would help to establish the Group's credibility, especially with its supporters, who need to see progress. He was keen to send letters of introduction to key contacts.

Gavin Fulton had previously drafted a letter, but it was felt this could be improved. Sharon Shenhav agreed to redraft it and circulate for approval. She was keen to refer not only to the number of households represented, but also the demographics of the population in relation to specific difficulties they encounter when attempting to use the ferry service. Sally Campbell offered to source this information.

3. Herald Quotes
Following Bob Haddow's initial contact, Gavin Fulton had been speaking with a journalist who is preparing two articles about ferry services. The first would focus on reliability, capacity and procurement. Gavin had referred him to Roy Pedersen and Alf Baird with regard to procurement, but sought a suitable quote about reliability. Robert Cumming suggested the measure of dissatisfaction was clearly demonstrated by the level of support for the Arran Ferry Action Group, which had gone from zero to close on 1,000 in the space of six weeks. Sharon Shenhav asked what data was available about the level of disruptions. Gavin Fulton agreed to follow this up with Nigel Armstrong who had offered to assist. Robert Cumming pointed out that uncertainty was more of an impediment to making travel plans than actual cancellations.

A second article will focus on the Brodick terminal. Gavin Fulton proposed to put the journalist in touch with Sally Campbell, who had a wealth of information based on previous meetings and correspondence. He also asked whether Sam Bourne would be willing to submit his proposals. Both agreed to finesse their documents for this purpose. These were required within the next few days and would be attributed to their originators as members of Arran Ferry Action Group.

4. CalMac Waitlist
It was noted with disappointment that the reintroduction of this helpful system came with strings attached.

5. Funding
It was agreed to wait until the Group had achieved tangible progress before inviting supporters to contribute towards our costs. In the interim, it was agreed that committee members would each put £50 into the new bank account, once this was open. John Ford presented banking forms for signature by the office bearers, facilitating internet banking as well as a cheque book service. It was agreed that as treasurer, John would, where possible, attend to all banking transactions himself.

6. Brodick Pier Proposal
John Ford praised Sam Bourne's report and proposed solution, but suggested that it contain an explanation of the term 'fetch', which would not be understood by laypeople. He asked further technical questions regarding the jet stream and prevailing winds, which Sam addressed, saying that he had contacts who could provide further data. Sally Campbell asked about climate change and tidal surges. Sam explained that storm surges will cause flooding if these coincide with high tides.

7. Ferry Committee
An unofficial invitation had been received for a member of the Action Group to join the Ferry Committee representing independent travellers. It was felt that our legitimacy would be compromised by doing so, since the Ferry Committee represent predominantly commercial interests.

About Us

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.


Contact Us

Arran Ferry Action Group

Shore Road
Isle of Arran
KA27 8AJ
United Kingdom

+44 (0)1770 302 546