“SIX YEARS OF FAILURE” – SCOTTISH LABOUR MSP CALLS OUT FM OVER ARDROSSAN HARBOUR
Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark has called on the Scottish Government to take Ardrossan Harbour into public ownership, blaming the Scottish Government for “endless delays” and “squandering taxpayers’ money” since Humza Yousaf signed off its upgrade six years ago.
In April 2018, the First Minister, then Minister for Transport & the Islands, gave the green light to construct a new terminal building, install a new linkspan, realign the current berth and repair fenders at the harbour.
However, six years on, construction has still not started, with Kevin Stewart, new Minister for Transport, suggesting the start date will again be pushed back until Spring next year due to the continued failure to agree legal and commercial terms with statutory harbour authority Peel Ports. The Scottish Government has already handed Peel, a controversial tax-haven owned firm, over £400,000 in taxpayers’ money for the project.
The ferry route from Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran is the busiest in the country. However, island residents have frequently raised concerns that the ageing infrastructure at the port will only compound the ongoing ferries crisis, with thousands of sailings cancelled in recent years because of mechanical issues. Ardrossan’s Arran services are set to be relocated to Troon whilst upgrades are ongoing.
Katy Clark, who represents West Scotland for Scottish Labour, commented: “In April 2018, ex-transport minister Humza Yousaf approved upgrading Ardrossan Harbour. Six years on, endless delays mean we’re no further forward and the Scottish Government squanders taxpayers money whilst failing to agree terms with powerful private landowner Peel Ports.
“Islanders have had enough of this fiasco. They still don’t even know what will be finished first: the delayed Glen Sannox vessel at Ferguson Marine or the delayed upgrade to the harbour it’s supposed to run from. Meanwhile, a prolonged move to Troon will impact local supply chains, the viability of local businesses and other transport links.
“Whilst this shambles drags on, it’s islanders, ferry users and local businesses who pay the price. I’ve continually pressed the Scottish Government to push Peel to reach terms, to little avail. Humza Yousaf should show leadership and announce that the Scottish Government will now commit to compulsory measures, including public ownership, so the upgrades he signed off can finally be completed.”
See this link for an article concerning Katy’s communication to the First Minister calling for the nationalisation of Ardrossan Harbour.
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SLAMMED BY SCOTTISH LABOUR MSP FOR “UTTERLY RECKLESS” CHARTER OF NOW DELAYED VESSEL
The Scottish Government has been slammed for its “utterly reckless” charter of MV Alfred by Scottish Labour MSP after it emerged the lease has been delayed because the vessel still doesn’t have its passenger safety certificate.
Last month, the MSP, who represents West Scotland, revealed that neither the Minister for Transport nor representatives from CMAL or Transport Scotland had held meetings with vessel owner Pentland Ferries about the catamaran joining the CalMac fleet on a nine-month basis despite it being investigated for crashing into an island only last year.
MV Alfred was due to be transferred to the state-owned operator early next week, and an older catamaran which the company intends to use on the Orkney crossing in its place, does not yet have its own safety certificate. The MV Pentalina, another Pentland boat previously considered for charter by the Scottish Government, was also found to have numerous health and safety “discrepancies” by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in 2021.
Katy Clark, Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland, commented: “It is deeply unsurprising the charter of a vessel that the Scottish Government blindly signed off on without so much as a phone call has now been delayed.
“Ministers were fully aware about last year’s accident and anti-trade union operator Pentland Ferries’ abysmal reputation. This shambles speaks to the Scottish Government’s shallow procurement strategy and how its ‘fair work framework’ is just discarded at the drop of a hat.
“Island communities are crying out for a sustainable plan, but other than the overdue ferries sitting at Ferguson Marine, the approach seems to be to desperately scour the globe for secondhand vessels, outsource projects abroad or panic-lease from an operator with a poor health and safety record.
“The Clyde and Hebrides needs a resilient fleet, but the Scottish Government has been utterly reckless in this instance. Ministers need to come forward with an emergency procurement strategy, with trade unions and island communities fully consulted.”
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST DELIVER RADICAL PLAN TO TACKLE ARRAN HOUSING
Commenting after highlighting in a question to the Housing Minister in the Scottish Parliament that Arran has the highest proportion of second homes in Scotland in the Scottish Parliament, Katy Clark, Scottish Labour MSP for West Scotland, said: “In total, around one in four privately-owned homes on Arran are second homes, holiday homes or standing empty.
“Meanwhile, the average house price is estimated to be eight to 10 times as much as the average worker’s wage. These staggering statistics show why living on Arran is simply unsustainable for many workers. The recent council housing development at Brathwic Terrace in Brodick is welcome and shows there is space for bold planning. However, this means delivering a housing strategy that reflects the economic and social needs of local people and prospective workers.
“The Scottish Government needs to stop dithering and come forward with its Remote, Rural and Island Housing Action Plan. This should include a clear commitment to building new social homes and to increasing taxes on second homes, which will ensure more properties on the islands are available.”
Transcript of the exchange in the Scottish Parliament below:
Katy Clark: “A recent Scottish Parliament information centre report revealed that Arran has the highest rate of second home ownership in Scotland, accounting for 25 per cent of all privately owned homes on the island. Only 11 per cent of Arran’s housing stock is available for affordable rent, and, of course, rents on the island are more expensive than those on the mainland. Will the minister advise on when the Scottish Government’s remote, rural and island action plan for housing will be published and on what is being considered that will particularly address areas where there is a very high density of second homes?”
Paul McLennan: “As, I think, I mentioned, the action plan will be published relatively soon. I will let Katy Clark know when it is available, at that time. We talked about some of the issues that there are. The buy-to-let control areas, which I think I mentioned before, are one part of that. I plan to visit Argyll and Bute and other rural communities to engage with them and talk about the issues that have been raised. It is more complex than that. I talked about the consultation on the second homes supplement. Again, I would be keen to find out Argyll and Bute’s understanding of and position on that.”
See the Second Homes in Scotland Stats – SPICe blog for more information on the number of second homes in Scotland and the policy measures that affect them.