LAST week I once again raised the issue of Ferguson Marine in the Scottish Parliament, as I have done often.

Indeed, it is a subject I have raised in this column a number of times recently.

But, on both counts, this only demonstrates the importance of securing a positive future not just for the yard and its workers, but for Inverclyde and Scotland as a whole. And the situation at present is particularly urgent.

The GMB trade union, supported by parties from across the political spectrum, has made the Scottish Government aware of an impending deadline for the placing of an order for a new plating line at Ferguson's.

Workers and management are agreed that investment is essential; not least to improving efficiency at the yard, and to win future work to secure its long-term future and that of shipbuilding on the lower Clyde.

Failure to make these urgent investments, by contrast, is likely to result in many more months of delay, and to continue to place the future of Ferguson's itself in doubt.

That is why I urged Cabinet Secretary Neil Gray to commit to making this urgent investment in the yard’s facilities, and to commit also to providing additional cash to kick-start the Inverclyde economy, especially in light of recent job losses and economic shocks.

Sadly, Mr Gray declined to make those commitments at this stage.

That is disappointing. The deadline is imminent, and Ferguson's needs this investment – to improve its operations, to put it on a sound footing going forward, and to prevent further delays to the long-awaited ferries promised to our island communities.

Inverclyde as a whole also needs investment, as the work of the area's taskforce has emphasised and been designed to encourage.

It’s not too late for Mr Gray and the Scottish Government to do the right thing; the right thing by Ferguson's workforce and long-suffering islanders, and the right thing by Inverclyde as a whole.

Will they step up?