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Ferguson uncertainty causing anxiety on Isle of Arran

The uncertainty surrounding Ferguson Marine is causing anxiety on the Isle of Arran.

Arran: Ferry uncertainty causing anxiety.
Arran: Ferry uncertainty causing anxiety.

Reporting by Kevin Scott.

Uncertainty surrounding Ferguson Marine is causing anxiety on an island community that should, by now, be serviced by one of the vessels at the centre of the company's difficulties.

But the Glen Sannox, which should be ferrying freight, tourists and locals on the Isle of Arran, is lying half-finished up the Clyde in Port Glasgow.

Ferguson is on the brink of administration, raising fears over whether two new ferries ordered by the Scottish Government will be completed.

Now islanders are worried about the growing impact of a lack of capacity on the Ardrossan to Brodick route if no solution is found soon.

The port of Brodick , which is the gateway to Arran, is serviced by two ferries during the summer, one of which is due to be replaced by the Glen Sannox.

Over 180 scheduled ferry crossings, around 7%, on the Ardrossan to Brodick route have been cancelled already this year

This had led to the Arran Action Ferry Group, who were formed to improve services to the island, now saying the situation is deteriorating.

Group member Sally Campbell said: "We have been waiting for the new ferry for a very long time, and we were very concerned from early days that it was going to be too big and too expensive.

Sally Campbell: Arran Action Ferry Group.
Sally Campbell: Arran Action Ferry Group.

"What we really need is an efficient, reliable and resilient bus service for island residents across the Clyde and gradually over the last couple of years we have grown more and more concerned at the number of reasons that it isn't coming to service and the cost has escalated."

Arran Dairies ice cream parlour relies on a smooth ferry operation to transport produce around the world and for tourists to boost its revenue.

The parlour's manager Alastair Dobson says he doesn't care how the government and Ferguson reach a solution... just as long they do.

He said: "For me the best outcome would be to get the ferries built and put something in place that is for the economic benefit of this area, not just for the islands but for the upper Clyde to have that ship building capacity in the Clyde is huge.

"But whatever happens let's just get the ferries back on the sea."

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