David Stewart MSP

Scottish Government criticised over Gourock-Dunoon service

3 June 2011

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart has criticised the Scottish Government for failing to look after the interests of people using the Gourock to Dunoon ferry service and called for an independent inquiry into the whole history of tendering.
He was speaking following the Scottish Government’s announcement of the tender results for the ferry link between Dunoon and Gourock town centres in which it was confirmed that there would be no vehicle element to the new service.
Mr Stewart, an ex-member of the Scottish Parliament’s transport committee and a long time campaigner for the ferry, has tabled oral Parliamentary questions on the issue.
The MSP said: “What we have effectively got now thanks to the Scottish Government’s decision is a private monopoly of vehicles on ferries with no regulation from the Government over pricing and frequency of services.
“The Scottish Government’s role should be as defender of the public interest.
” I am also calling for the Office of Fair Trading to carry out a full , comprehensive and independent enquiry into the whole history of the tendering for this ferry service.”

Oral Question in the Scottish Parliament
Thursday 2 June 2011
Gourock to Dunoon Ferry Service (Tender)

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) : To ask the Scottish Executive what progress has been made on the Gourock to Dunoon ferry tender.

The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment (Alex Neil): On Wednesday 25 May, we announced that the preferred bidder for the Gourock to Dunoon ferry service tender is Argyll Ferries, a subsidiary of David MacBrayne. Subject to a statutory standstill period, the contract to run the service is due to be signed on 7 June. The new passenger ferry service will then start by 30 June.

David Stewart: The Gourock to Dunoon ferry tender has had more twists and turns than a trip over the Rest and be thankful. The minister does not need to take my word for that; he need only read the letters page of any edition of the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard over the past 12 months. Does the minister accept that the route from McInroy’s point to Hunter’s Quay on the Clyde is eligible to be treated as a public service route under the European Union’s maritime cabotage regulations of 1992, should Scottish ministers deem it appropriate? Will the minister support my call to refer the matter to the Office of Fair Trading for a full, comprehensive and independent inquiry?

Alex Neil: Not everyone agrees with David Stewart’s assessment, including those who write to the local newspaper. Indeed, before I came into the chamber this morning, I received an unsolicited letter from a member of the public in Argyll—

Members: Mike Russell!

Alex Neil: The letter said:

“I was delighted to read that the Dunoon – Gourock Ferry saga has reached conclusion. It is a decision which I am certain will be welcomed by the vast majority of ferry travellers on the Cowal peninsula.”

I am sure that that sentiment is shared by the local member, as well as many others.

I recognise that there is a need in general terms to consider the issues of competition and the co-ordination of ferry services. As I indicated when I announced the outcome of this contract award, we are seriously considering the possibility of establishing a ferry regulator.

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Written by davidstewart

June 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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