IN my last column I touched upon the launching of the Glen Rosa and it’s fair to say that drew a lot of comments from anyone that wants to criticise the Scottish Government, the SNP or me.

One sure thing about being an elected member is that people will be quick to criticise and the building of the Sannox and Rosa have rightly been picked out for special scrutiny.

There were mistakes made and those resulted in excessive time and money being spent. And the reasons for that must be understood and actions taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

That also applies to the £4bn overspend on London’s Elizabeth Line, the £4bn overspend on two aircraft carriers, the £4bn spent to manufacture only 44 of the promised 589 Ajax tanks and the £14bn additional spend on HS2 that is now planned to end at Birmingham not Scotland as was promised. And then there was the £4bn of unusable PPE bought in the first year of the pandemic.

Why do so many major public projects end up costing so much more than they were originally expected to? Is it because it’s public money and private companies look after their own money better? Is it poor governance or are the cynics right and are just so used to this scenario that we make excuses and repeat it ad nauseum?

Whatever the reasons they must change.

On a brighter note, it was great to see so many people turn up to the launch of the Glen Rosa. Despite all the negativity around it, the people of Inverclyde were there to cheer and applaud. Nobody paid them to be there. Nobody lobbied them to attend. The yard opened its gates and the public walked in. That gesture meant so much to those involved in the yard.

Despite the bad publicity, the people of Inverclyde were there to say we are proud of this vessel and we clapped for the workforce and their achievements.

We now need to convince the Scottish Government that Ferguson Marine has a vital role in the Small Vessel Replacement Programme. To satisfy the demands of the current ferry service Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) need a completely new fleet.

That could be a twenty-year programme, but we need them replaced sooner than that, so using multiple yards is not inconceivable. Caledonian Marine Assets Limited (CMAL), CalMac and Ferguson Marine need to sit down round the table and put in place a plan that can work for them, satisfy the Scottish Government, the people that use and rely on the service and the taxpayer.

That way we will build a better fleet, provide an appropriate ferry service, keep the much needed and valued jobs in Inverclyde and enjoy many more launch days in Port Glasgow. The next step in doing that will be the summit on the May 16 with the cabinet secretary, Mairi McAllan MSP in attendance.