It's hardly a promising start to the year. However, following intense lobbying, together with considerable media pressure, we remain hopeful that CMAL are finally going to reinstate Gourock as a Port of Refuge. It remains to be seen whether CalMac will honour their promise to make use of this port when Ardrossan is out of action.
To date, all our requests to serve on the Ardrossan Task Force have been rejected. Our local MSP has, until very recently, refused to engage with us. After repeated requests, Transport Scotland eventually released some documents relating to the proposed works, but critical information was redacted. We appealed to the Information Commissioner, who found in our favour, and now await full disclosure from this government department.
The CalMac Community Board failed to represent Arran altogether when presenting their evidence to the Government Inquiry into the new ferry fiasco. We have of course submitted our own evidence and our representatives attended the Inquiry, although they were not allowed to speak. We have made repeated representations to the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee for Arran's plight to be properly considered and have today appealed again on behalf of the island.
Those in authority seem able to ignore such appeals so we are again mounting a media campaign in the hope of embarrassing them into action to address the shortcomings of our lifeline ferry service. We are mindful of the potential damage of negative publicity on Arran's economy, but with substantial losses to winter trade already incurred due to ferry problems, we remain determined to hold those responsible to account. At the end of the day, perhaps the politicians will care more about your votes than your ferry service.
To this end we have today requested that the parlous state of our ferry service be raised at First Minister's Questions this week. Unfortunately, our suggestion that an available catamaran be chartered to supplement the currently limping vessel has already been rejected by CalMac.
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.