THE leader of Inverclyde Council is calling for assurances over jobs and future work at Ferguson's shipyard and wants a probe into how the company got into financial distress.

Councillor Stephen McCabe has appealed to Scotland's finance secretary, Derek Mackay, to open up about the plans for the Port Glasgow yard, which remains in administration whilst a new commercial operator is sought.

It's over four weeks since the Scottish Government assumed control of Ferguson Marine, promising to nationalise it if a commercial buyer cannot be found.

Mr McCabe wants to know what ministers have planned for the 300-plus workforce beyond the long-awaited completion of the two delayed and over-budget CalMac ferries which got the yard into trouble.

The Port yard is also part of a consortium led by engineering giant Babcock that was named preferred bidder for the warship work last Thursday.

Cllr McCabe said: "As the only surviving commercial shipyard on the Clyde, Ferguson's and its workforce are a virtually unique, national asset.

"In this capacity, I'm looking for assurances on the role, beyond the current ferry contracts, that Ferguson Marine has to play in the country's industrial and maritime strategies. "It's important to know, specifically, the role that the yard might fulfil if Babcock International secures the contract to build the Royal Navy's Type 31e frigates.

"Beyond the potential Babcock contract, I'm seeking to know what other contracts Ferguson Marine might tender for and what other long-term opportunities the Scottish Government has identified to secure these vitally important, local jobs."

The council leader also believes an investigation is essential to find out exactly how the yard got into trouble in the first place.

Ferguson's plunged into administration on August 16 following a two-year row between publicly-owned ferries agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), and shipyard owner Jim McColl over the disputed CalMac ferry contract, which is now expected to cost double the original £97 million price.

Mr McColl, a government economic advisor, rescued the shipbuilder in 2014 and oversaw a £25m redevelopment of the facility and wants to buy it back but 20 other companies have expressed intrest in doing a deal, with a price of around £60m quoted.

Cllr McCabe said: "I want assurances that the previous owner's expansion plans for the yard, and the proposed increase in the workforce, are not scrapped but play a key part in the Scottish Government's plans for the yard's future.

"It's also crucial that any local supply chains are strengthened and that we, and our partners, continue the strong relationship we have with Ferguson Marine in supporting training and development opportunities.

"Jim McColl has claimed opportunities were missed to resolve the issues between CMAL and Ferguson's in relation to the ferry contract. "While I'm seeking immediate assurances about the yard's future, I firmly believe there are questions to be answered at a national level around this and that an independent investigation is required."