Independent candidate John Hunter said: “I am, needless to say, absolutely delighted with the news of Ardrossan remaining the mainland port for the Arran ferry. It has been a long and at times difficult process and the behaviour of Associated British Ports and their supporters has been lamentable. I’m happy now that the issue has been settled and that we in Ardrossan can get back to the serious business of promoting and improving our town. Great credit must go to the entire community and the common purpose shown by all involved. With the local elections just around the corner I hope that political opponents can resist the temptation to claim all the credit for what was a major victory for the people of Ardrossan and Arran.”
Outgoing Labour councillor Peter McNamara welcomed the news: “Absolutely over the moon for the three towns community, they pulled together and got a great result, the whole community should be rightly proud of their magnificent achievement. We at the Ardrossan Music Experience are putting on a celebration for the communities of Ardrossan and Arran details of which will be published soon, but it will include both. This is a great opportunity to celebrate our mutual relationship with our Ferry.”
SNP candidate Tony Gurney expressed his delight at the news and said: “The Ardrossan to Brodick ferry link has, rightly, been saved.
“Huge thanks are due to those who organised the campaign, especially the A&S Herald, the dozens of people who collected signatures and the thousands of people who rallied together to say “Keep it A to B”. This has been a great example of what communities can do when they come together to work for a cause they believe in. I want to thank each and very person who helped.”
Outgoing SNP Councillor John Bruce expressed his satisfaction and added: “Although no great surprise’ at the Scottish Government’s final confirmation that Ardrossan Harbour would continue as the mainland port for the crossing to and from Brodick on the Isle of Arran.
“Cost, connectivity and duration would always be the main factors in any decision making process. Ardrossan always ticked those boxes, something the bid from ABP at Troon could never do. In promoting the campaign, NAC had demonstrable cross-party support and solid commitment from many organisations on both sides of the firth. Great credit to the A&S Herald - a real campaigning local newspaper.
“Admittedly, some folk were becoming a little impatient at the length of time it was taking to make a decision. However, I think everyone would agree that this had to be a thorough investigative process which would leave no room for any future dispute over the findings.
“With the Scottish Government’s adjudication, it is WIN, WIN for Ardrossan and Arran. All agencies involved can now move forward to progress the delivery of the improved port infrastructure and the planned economic development of the area, manifestly fit for the 21st century.”
Ellen McMaster, SNP Candidate for Ardrossan and Arran added: “As an Arran resident and organiser of the Arran “Keep it B to A” version of the Ferry petition I am relieved and delighted by the result. We collected over 1,200 signatures on the island at the Brodick Co-op; acting in the knowledge that the Arran to Ardrossan route was the best route for Arran residents and with an understanding of how vital the route is to the economy of Ardrossan and North Ayrshire, not least because of the significant number of Ardrossan and Saltcoats residents who rely on the route to get to their work on Arran everyday.
“Previously Peel Ports were operating without a contract from a port the Conservative party privatised in 1993. The Conservatives just saw quick money to be made from selling off vital infrastructure and did not have the will or the foresight to protect Arran’s lifeline ferry service from lack of investment. Now, with a contract in place we can ensure that Peel Ports lives up to its contractual obligations. If I am elected to the Council on May 4 I will work on behalf of Arran and Ardrossan residents to help ensure delivery of the quality of service the route requires.”
Clare McGuire, Labour candidate for Ardrossan and Arran, added: “This is great news for both communities.
“The planned investment in Ardrossan Harbour will ensure that Arran residents and businesses will have a first class ferry service along the fastest, shortest and cheapest route and they will continue to benefit from the Ardrossan Harbour train station.
“For Ardrossan, the fabric of our community, and our local economy, has been retained. This victory has the potential to be the catalyst for the £100m regeneration of Ardrossan North Shore and will allow a number of local businesses push ahead with their own growth plans.
“I would like to thank everybody who was involved in the campaign. It was great to see our community unite to fight Troon’s predatory bid.
“I would also like to pay tribute to elected members of all parties, but in particular the Labour administration for ensuring that this was a cross party, community campaign free from party politics. This was an issue too important for party politics and the Labour administration ensured that it wasn’t a political football between an SNP Government considering Troon’s bid and a Labour Council. Every elected member was given the chance to play their part and it is a credit that most dropped their political rosettes and united with the community to back Ardrossan.”
Conservative candidate Timothy Billings expressed his relief and said: “I am delighted that the Arran ferry will continue to run from Ardrossan, and it must be a huge relief for all those whose jobs and livelihoods were affected by the uncertainty. This is a very significant decision for everybody in Ardrossan because it not only keeps the ferry and the business associated with it, but also will help attract significant inward investment for the harbour as well as the town itself.
“The next steps will be to get the refurbishment of the harbour started, ready for the new ferry due in the second half of 2018. Peel Ports and North Ayrshire Council will need to work closely together to build a mainland port that Ardrossan can be proud of. It is essential that the £15million that is due to be invested in the harbour and the surrounding area is spent wisely. The new port facilities must be carefully designed so that they offer ferry service users a comfortable and easy to use terminal.
“Following on from this, North Ayrshire Council has spoken of further investment that keeping the ferry will attract, and I am excited about the opportunities that this could bring to Ardrossan.
During my campaign as councillor in the forthcoming local elections, people I have met spoke to me about what they would like to see for their town. I really hope that I will be elected as councillor for Ardrossan and given the opportunity to be part of these projects. To get the best out of any investment project, I know that local people must be involved so that they can have their say on where money is spent.”
Colin Turbett, Socialist candidate spoke to the Herald after the decision was made and said: “Well at least it’s over and we can all relax a bit after a hard fought and united campaign on both sides of the Clyde to Keep it A to B.
“This was a fight though, that was avoidable and unnecessary. Two vast companies, Peel Ports and ABP, both with assets all over the UK, holding us all to ransom for the right to continued profits for their shareholders. That Peel Ports won after years of neglect of Ardrossan Harbour, should not be seen as a credit to their capability - they at last woke up and smelled the coffee!”
“Back in the early 1990s when the nationalised Clydeport operation was privatised as a bundle (therefore excluding Troon) Ardrossan had become run down and little used. Like Troon last year, a P&O service was lost (to Troon!) so Peel Ports saw profit in creating a yacht haven for the wealthy, whilst overlooking the needs of the thousands of ordinary people who used the port as a gateway to Arran. Some degree of catching up is now to take place but investment is still required in the future to replace the breakwater and improve all weather access.
“Consideration is now being given to renationalising assets such as Scotland’s railways - so why not the Ports too? That would remove all future uncertainty and allow for proper strategic planning and public investment. That’s not so outlandish - Dover and some other major ports remain in public hands through the community owned trusts that operate them. We could do the same here.
“The SNP Government have made the right decision this time - although why they had to consider ABP’s predatory bid in the first place remains in question.”