EARLIER this week, a ministerial statement was made in the Scottish Parliament on the Ferguson Marine shipyard and the progress of the new two new ferries currently being built there, MV Glen Sannox (801), and MV Glen Rosa (802).

This statement from the Economy Secretary, Neil Gray MSP, contained some welcome news but also bitterly disappointing news.

It is positive that the chief executive officer of Ferguson Marine reported that the planned slipway launch and naming ceremony of MV Glen Rosa has been set for 12 March 2024.

However, there is no guarantee that this date won’t be delayed again, considering the original launch date for the vessel was in 2018.

It goes without saying that the delayed and over-budget 801 and 802 ferries must be completed urgently, but we also need a credible and robust plan for what comes next.

There is much blame to go around for the ferries fiasco, however, one group of people who deserve no blame are the workforce at the shipyard.

It is vitally important to secure the future of Ferguson Marine shipyard, not only to ensure the right thing is done by the workforce, but to ensure the future of shipbuilding in Inverclyde.

That is why it was so such a blow to learn that, after repeated and cross party calls for urgent capital intervention, the government are not providing the investment need the yard is in desperate need of.

The reason cited was that the initial business case would not meet the Commercial Market Operator test.

This investment is needed urgently however, to help win future orders of work. The Inverclyde economy has been hit over recent months with substantial job losses and this investment would be a significant help in kickstarting the economy again.

It would also help to improve efficiencies at the yard and put the yard in a strong position to deliver more ferries that our islanders deserve.

Ultimately, responsibility lies with the Scottish Government and it’s time they step up and provide this investment for the workforce, the islanders and for the future of our community as a whole.