INVERCLYDE’S MSPs have joined forces to demand action on the troubled Gourock to Kilcreggan ferry service.

SNP, Labour and Tory members today put aside party differences to call on the Scottish Government to take over the service as soon as possible from SPT (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport).

It has been cancelled frequently by operator Clydelink because of technical problems on the Island Princess ferry, forcing passengers to endure a 90-minute bus journey instead of the 13-minute crossing of the Clyde.

Greenock and Inverclyde SNP MSP, Stuart McMillan, said he had not always wanted the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency to take on the route — but has now changed his mind.

He said: “SPT  has mismanaged the service, let users down and proven once and for all that it cares little for the Clyde Coast.”

Mr McMillan is due to meet Transport Minister Humza Yousaf on December 12 to discuss the issue.

Labour’s transport spokesperson, West of Scotland MSP Neil Bibby, said the short crossing to Gourock makes hospitals, shops and public services accessible to people who would struggle to reach the same destinations timeously and economically if they travelled by land.

He said: “For many people, the ferry is a lifeline service that makes living on the Rosneath peninsula viable. Without it, fragile communities would be even more exposed to de-population and the risk of exclusion and isolation.”

Tory MSP Jamie Greene asked why the service “had been allowed to descend into such disarray”.

He said: “This is really about people. The service simply cannot be allowed to continue in its current state. The status quo is completely untenable, and is unacceptable to people on both sides of the Clyde.”

The Transport Minister said the government have received information from SPT, but have “legitimate concerns and questions about the true cost” of taking over the service.
Mr Yousaf said: “We need answers.

“The true cost will not include just the contract cost per annum. There is clearly an issue with the vessel, so we need to drill down into the cost of replacing the vessel and, perhaps, of providing a back-up vessel. We need to know the true value of taking over the entirety of the contract.”