TOURISTS and islanders were left stranded at the weekend as both of Arran’s ferries battled with technical issues.

Further problems with the MV Isle of Arran left it stuck in Ardrossan Harbour on Sunday afternoon and meant that scheduled ferries were delayed, diverted or cancelled.

And this meant that planned repair work to the ramp of the MV Caledonian Isles had to be postponed until at least next Monday as engineers worked to fix the MV Isle of Arran.

From 4pm onwards on Sunday, ferry issues caused headaches and left many stranded and scrambling for accommodation on the island.

Monday’s first four ferries were also cancelled as Calmac worked to get a contingency plan in place.

And politicians have clashed over the issues with local MSP Kenneth Gibson calling the damage caused to the ramp of the Caledonian Isles "shocking".

Mr Gibson’s Tory rival, Jamie Greene MSP, who represents the West Region as a List MSP, said in a statement: “Once again passengers on both shores are facing significant disruptions to their journeys. The fact that a vessel is being taken offline for a whole week means that the entire service will be affected – I’m afraid that this is completely unacceptable.

“This saga of delays, disruptions and cancellations has been going on for too long and it’s time that the SNP government got a grip of the situation. Passengers are rapidly losing confidence in the SNP’s ability to manage our ferry network and it’s not hard to see why, they’re consistently letting down our island communities.

“People rely on the ferry service to travel, go to work or school or access vital services such as healthcare. These disruptions aren’t just an inconvenience, they affect people’s lives in a big way.

“I’ll be raising this with Michael Matheson at the next possible opportunity. This cannot be allowed to continue any longer.”

But Kenneth Gibson hit back: “Once again we have plenty of moaning from Mr Greene who will be ‘raising the matter’ with the Transport Secretary. One notes the complete absence of any possible solutions from this Tory List MSP.

“Regarding the loss of ferry services due to breakdown, I completely understand the deep sense of frustration and anger shared by islanders and visitors.

“A ‘heavy load’ – as CalMac put it – damaged the front and rear ramps last Friday causing the cancellation of vehicle carrying services. An outline repair plan was agreed and an engineering team went on board the Caledonian Isles at 9.15am on Saturday to start works on the bow ramp ‘on the run’ i.e. to continue passenger service only.

“Repairs are currently being carried out on the Caledonian Isles stern ramp during sailings. It is shocking that this damage happened and I have asked how and why?

“Meanwhile, The Isle of Arran has suffered a recurrence of her oil distribution box technical fault, has been withdrawn from service and is at Garvel being repaired. All options are being examined to operate additional Caledonian Isles sailings.

“A double service adding the Loch Linnhe to the MV Catriona is now operating out of Lochranza. CalMac is working round the clock to restore Arran ferry services to normal as soon as possible.

“The SNP Government has invested £130 million in new vessels, a new harbour and Road Equivalent Tariff to reduce ferry fares – almost £30,000 per islander for Arran alone since 2007 and a new £3.5 million ‘resilience fund’ to enable faster repairs has been established, yet CalMac seem unable to prevent repeated breakdowns.

“Transport Scotland and Scottish Ministers are well aware of these issues. Vessels in Norway and Denmark have been examined to buy or lease until new vessels enter the fleet. However, whilst none suitable have yet been found, there is a determination to ensure a robust, resilient and reliable service for Arran.

A CalMac spokesman said: “MV Isle of Arran developed a technical fault on Sunday which has required her being taken out of service and she is now in the Garvel dock for further investigations and repairs to be carried out.

“Work on the MV Caledonian Isles’ stern ramp have been put on hold while the MV Isle of Arran’s technical issue is assessed and she is currently operating on the Brodick-Ardrossan service. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”