INVERCLYDE Council’s leader has urged cabinet secretary Neil Gray to change course after the Scottish Government turned down Ferguson Marine’s initial request for funding to help modernise the yard.

The Port Glasgow shipyard’s request for a £25m investment in a new plating line and software to improve productivity and help it compete for work has been knocked back by Holyrood ministers.

Councillor Stephen McCabe told the Telegraph the move cast doubts over the long-term outlook for Ferguson Marine.

He said: “The Cabinet Secretary’s decision not to support much needed investment in Ferguson's at this time is deeply disappointing and worrying.

“I was one of the signatories to the cross-party letter sent to Mr Gray at the end of August with the support of the GMB trade union.

“We were told by the chief executive of Ferguson Marine that this investment is vital for the future of the yard and that there was a pressing need for the Scottish Government to approve the funding as soon as possible.

“I would urge the Cabinet Secretary to reconsider his decision and I would implore the local MSP and MP to make urgent representations to their SNP colleague on behalf of the workforce and the wider Inverclyde Community.”

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray stated during a Holyrood meeting on Tuesday that the government were working with the shipyard to ‘refine’ its business plan before they agree to extra funding.

The move came after an earlier report from Audit Scotland, which warned that the yard’s future was uncertain.

Councillor McCabe said: “Fergusons is a vital employer for Inverclyde.

“Without this investment and the direct award of a new ferry contract its future is hugely uncertain.

“The yard has already failed twice while in private ownership during the life of the SNP Government.

“If it fails a third time the responsibility will lie squarely with the Government as the current owners.”