AN MSP has warned that the Scottish Government must learn from ‘endless ministerial and managerial mistakes’ at Ferguson’s shipyard in Port Glasgow and come forward with a sustainable long-term strategy for the building of ferries in Scotland.

Speaking ahead of her contribution to Tuesday’s Scottish Parliament debate on building a modern and sustainable ferry service, Labour's Katy Clark highlighted the Holyrood transport committee’s conclusion that efforts to purchase or lease existing vessels abroad 'are not working' and 'should not be relied upon’.

The West Scotland MSP added that the Scottish Government’s Islands Connectivity Plan must present a ‘clear strategy to replenish the fleet’ if it is to meet its aim of dramatically reducing the average age.

Ms Clark said: “Islanders are fed up with being an afterthought. Their livelihoods, and indeed the very future of their islands, are being affected by the frequent mechanical failures, yet the Scottish Government is missing in action.

“As one constituent told me recently, in the 1960s we could send a man to the moon, yet it’s increasingly difficult to travel from Arran to the mainland without any disruption. That isn’t acceptable.

“Ministers have had years to get on top of these issues and replenish the fleet. Instead, they’ve dithered and panicked, presiding over a litany of procurement failures.

“In the last five years alone, the Scottish Government has examined and dismissed 650 second-hand vessels, panic-leased from private operators with poor health and safety records and outsourced projects to Turkey, a country where workers face random arrests.

"The only projects managed domestically have been at Ferguson Marine, which has been marred by endless ministerial and managerial mistakes.

“Enough is enough. Islands want to see a clear strategy to replenish the fleet.

"That may mean some temporary short term tonnage, but for a sustainable long term service, there must also be a thorough realistic industrial strategy to analyse where shipbuilding capacity can be rebuilt in Scotland, with the needs of island and coastal communities taken on board every step of the way.”