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CalMac islands ferry row hits another storm

MV Coruisk
MV Coruisk

The row over taking the MV Coruisk ferry away from Skye and moving it to an Argyll and Bute route has hit another storm.

Bosses at the Sleat Transport Forum, which has been campaigning for the ferry to be returned to the Mallaig to Armadale Service, are unhappy with the response they have received to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted to CalMac Ferries.

And they claim a very important question has not been answered.

The ferry, which was purpose-built for the Skye crossing, was transferred to the Mull route at the start of the summer and was replaced with MV Lochinvar and MV Loch Bhrusda, which are unable to operate at low tide.

Businesses owners on Skye and the mainland claim the move has left them struggling to survive.

And they were delighted when Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford said CalMac managing director, Martin Dorchester, had assured him it would return to Skye.

It was then revealed that the Coruisk would remain on the Mull route and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, Mr Dorchester, Mr Blackford, Kate Forbes MSP and representatives of Transport Scotland met at Holyrood to discuss this.

Transport forum secretary Rob Ware said members were very unhappy with the decision and submitted an FoI to CalMac asking why Mr Dorchester told Mr Blackford the Coruisk would return if there was any doubt.

The response from CalMac operations director Andrew Collier said: “Mr Dorchester spoke to Mr Blackford on June 1 and informed him that the company was looking at the possibility of placing MV Coruisk on the Mallaig-Armadale route, subject to Transport Scotland approval.

“Mr Blackford’s statement seemed to acknowledge the approval process when he stated: ‘I am delighted that Caledonian MacBrayne has decided to return the MV Coruisk to operate the service between Mallaig and Armadale and are seeking the support of Transport Scotland to sign off on the deployment’.”

The forum also asked why there had been a “u-turn” on the decision advised to Mr Blackford.

Mr Collier denied any u-turn and wrote: “The MV Coruisk returning to the Mallaig-Armadale route was one option being explored and any decision was to be ratified by Transport Scotland.

“Ultimately the decision was taken that the Coruisk would remain on the Oban-Craignure route.”

Mr Ware said: “They have still not answered the question about whether Martin Dorchester said the Coruisk would be returned to the route.”

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