Update on Corran Ferry

This is an update from my point of view as your local councillor, trying to pull together numerous emails, telephone calls and conversations I’ve had in the last 24 hours.

Firstly, I know that many have expressed concern about driving along the A861 from Kinlocheil to Ardgour – mainly as a result of motorists not used to driving on a single-track road. The local police, via Inspector Isla Campbell at Fort William Police Station, have been asked to patrol that section and talk to motorists where appropriate.

The council’s Director of Finance, in the absence of the director normally responsible for transport, is tasked with taking appropriate action to resume the service and make alternative arrangements if this is delayed. I have asked him to investigate a pedestrian only-service with dedicated bus shuttle services either side of the narrows, which would help people getting to work or with hospital appointments in Fort William. I’ve also suggested that if it is likely that there will be an extended loss of service that we should be talking to the Navy about what equipment they have that would be suitable to assist. From previous experience, I understand there are no vessels in the Calmac fleet that can use the slipways.

The fault has been identified as being with the computer system that operates the propellers. An engineer from Germany will be arriving on Wednesday to carry out diagnostics to identify the fault. The engineer is familiar with the ferry and will advise on the solution. The ferry crew have carried out an inspection of all spaces below water and have found no evidence of water ingress. A full-colour visual survey of the hull will also be carried out by ROV (Remote Operative Vehicle) tomorrow.

Local councillors were only told of problems with the refit of the Maid of Glencoul, on Saturday evening. It went for this refit on 6th March. Admittedly, although I use the Corran Ferry frequently I had not noticed it had been away for so long. However, I have previously argued that if there are any delays with the refit for either the MV Corran or Maid of Glencoul then councillors should be informed immediately. This did not happen. The Maid of Glencoul has a steering fault, with a slewing ring failing beyond repair. Due to the age of this vessel, there are no longer any spare parts available, so one is having to be manufactured.

Since Saturday, I’ve asked a barrage of questions on behalf of the community, many reflected in the post above. However, this whole saga requires full scrutiny and I have demanded that senior officers prepare a full report for discussion with local councillors at an Area Committee meeting in August. This meeting will be held in public, not behind closed doors, so that everyone can hear the explanation as to why this has happened with no adequate contingency plans.

In the meantime, I am meeting with the Director of Finance on Wednesday morning to discuss progress and I will update residents after this meeting.

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9 thoughts on “Update on Corran Ferry

  1. Thanks for the update , although it doesnt fill me with confidence that the service will be resumed in the next day or two. I have been using the ferry twice a day , 5/6 days a week recently and have nothing but respect for each and every one of the crew. Very dissapointed however in the lack of response from Highland Council. Had to drive ‘the long way round’ towards the Fort on monday morning, a very scary experience even for someone who has been driving many years and regularly drives single track roads. Feel the people in Ardnamurchan deserve better. So come on Highland Council get your finger out and get this sorted !!!!!

    • Not involved in any way but am minded to ask, what would your suggestion be to get it sorted??
      Unlike domestic appliances, cars, busses or lorries you can’t just go and hire one while yours is being repaired.
      In these times of austerity I feel sorry for the crews and engineers tasked with maintaining the vessels and the service. Juggling the need to limit the costs and deliver the service.

  2. We choose to live here ,I know it is a great inconvenience not having a ferry ,but this sort of things happen regularly on the small isles they can go for days with no ferrys they just have to get on with it, at least we can get in and out by road .Come on folks we will just have to wait a wee bitty longer for milk and papers not the end of the world.

  3. Pingback: Update on Corran Ferry | scotlandstill

  4. Thank you for update and glad to have you in “our corner”. Yes John, it is an inconvenience, but, I’m thankful this didn’t happen during winter months when I and others have had to drive around the Loch as ferry cancelled due to adverse weather. I nurse in Belford (12.5 hr shifts) so I’ve left home @ 5.30 since his happened and returned home for 21.30hrs. And you’re correct, we do choose to live on Ardnamurchan, but, this does affect more than ‘milk and papers being delivered. I’m not complaining, just hoping lessons can be learnt.

  5. When plans to have the Nether Lochaber slipway rebuilt were discussed locally a few years ago, we were assured by council officers that Highland Council were the best option to manage the Corran ferry. It was asserted that only the council really had the interests of local people at heart . Now it appears there has been no one actually in charge of budgets who is really paying attention. 18 weeks with no back up contingency for this lifeline ferry in place??? Residents may also forget that for over a dozen years now Ardnamurchan peninsular has depended on a “temporary” bailey bridge at Kinloch Moidart too. You could not invent this level of cost cutting “not on my desk” mis-management. Do urban councillors realise how much a Highland medical emergency helicopter costs the council budget each time it is needed. ?

    • How many spare planes do airlines keep sitting at airports just waiting and ready to fly when there’s a breakdown???

      There were days when individually and as a community we had some reserves and contingencies for the like of this or worse. Now it is SOMEONE should do something to fix this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      We rely on council employees and councillors to make the most efficient use of our taxes to provide maximum value.

  6. Ferguson’s the local haulier have a number of ex military landing craft, could one of those be chartered in the short term. I think that the Army ripped the bottom out of the last two Scottish based large landing craft some years ago.

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