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A public meeting on Wednesday night concluded with a rallying call to march on Holyrood in September to get the town centre to town centre ferries that Dunoon deserves.


A packed St Mun’s church hall gathered to hear about ‘new ferries for Dunoon?’ at a meeting called by Dunoon-Gourock Ferry Action Group.




It had been hoped that MSPs Michael Russell, Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would attend, but a Tuesday evening toward the end of the parliamentary session – and an EU referendum result – meant that was impossible. Apologies were received with Michael Russell providing a written statement for the meeting and Hamza Yousaf offering to meet with the steering group to discuss this further.


The meeting rehearsed the history of the CalMac/Argyll Ferries service and discussed the current invitation to tender process, the details of which are still to be confirmed.


Harbour dues were also high on the agenda with a suggestion from Neil Kay to Dick Walsh that Argyll and Bute Council could consider leasing Dunoon harbour to whichever operator succeeded in winning the tender to allow them some form of security over pricing.


Cllr Walsh said that the he didn’t see ‘the journey that we’ve been on as one that’s been lost’ and that the council’s position ‘remains that of the mandate the council has to support the community’s wishes for a vehicle and passenger town centre to town centre service’.


He said that a review of harbour charges was ongoing and that he council would ‘seek to minimise charges’. He added that the council has ‘no influence or authority over what CMAL [operating Gourock harbour] does’.


He said there were three possible options: to sell, to lease, or to enter into a user agreement predicated on the type service required.


Convenor Susanna Rice said: “The show stopper is the harbour charges.”


Dick responded that the council ‘was prepared to negotiate with any potential operator’.


The view from the floor was that the invitation to tender specification had to be right or had to be stopped.


Mick Rice then called for the group should go en masse to Holyrood on September 22 to tell ‘our political representatives that we want this sorted’.


Our picture shows a previous demonstration at Holyrood – in September 2013 – about the ‘bath-tub boats’, described by previous transport minister Alex Neil in 21012 as ‘not fit for purpose’. Nicola Sturgeon said in 2013 that the status quo is not an option.


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