After the issue of tender specifications by the Scottish Government was delayed for six months, fears have been expressed that decisions on the future of the Clyde ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon are being sidelined until after Scottish elections in May.
Caledonian MacBrayne’s ‘Explore 2011’ brochure warns that the service may be ‘subject to change or withdrawal at short notice’, prompting Argyll and Bute MSP Alan Reid to comment: ‘It now looks likely that Government dithering will result in Dunoon losing a town-centre ferry service next summer. The Transport Minister must tell us what he plans to do.’
Last year’s EC investigation into Scotland’s ferry network found that to fully comply with EU rules the present Gourock-Dunoon service would have to be replaced by June 2011, following an open tendering process. According to the Commission, subsidies paid for foot passengers potentially help underwrite vehicle traffic, providing unfair assistance against a rival service operated by Western Ferries.