FERRY operator Caledonian MacBrayne wants the Ardrossan to Brodick service to relocate to Troon during harbour upgrades, the Herald can exclusively reveal.

But stakeholders on the Ardrossan Harbour Taskforce are keen to see the ferry stay put, even when work is being carried out – with other locals saying that any move to Troon sets a dangerous precedent.

And at the height of the ‘Save Our Ferry’ campaign last year, the MV Isle of Arran struck the sea wall at Troon Harbour whilst attempting to seek refuge.

That put a huge dent in the ‘Choose Troon’ campaign from the businesses in the town and the port owners ABP.

Kenneth Gibson MSP told the Herald: “The issue for me is that we retain Ardrossan as the port for Arran while this work is continuing.

"The Transport Minister is of that view as well but the operator Calmac is keen to move to Troon for nine months to a year while the work goes on.

"We take the view that we managed to work in Brodick.

"My understanding is that all other partners share our view that we should be looking to operate out of the harbour as is.”

Former Indepedent Councillor for Ardrossan and Arran, John Hunter, believes that any move at all could mean sailings remain at Troon.

He hit out: “I think it is a dangerous precedent.

"I think one day, one week, one year is too long for that ferry to be away and I suspect if it ever ended up going away, for whatever reason other than safety, then we could kiss goodbye to some of the sailings. I certainly hope it doesn’t happen.”

North Ayrshire Council Leader, Joe Cullinane, explained that a number of options will be considered and said no decision has yet been taken.

Cllr Cullinane said: “Calmac will look at everything from an operational point of view and that is absolutely their role within the ferry service but there has been no decisions.

"You have a whole range of options. You have works in other harbours across the country where they only have one berth.

"Ardrossan does have the unique advantage of having two, which gives you options on how you can phase some works. There might be rumours swirling about but it is certainly not something that is decided.

"The decision will be taken to ensure the reliability of the service, that they are able to continue on the same timetable and I think the real challenges for anybody who advocates a move to Troon is that they cannot commit to the timetable.”

A CalMac spokesman said: “Any major upgrade of Ardrossan Harbour may involve services to Brodick requiring an alternative departure and arrival point during periods of the work.

“Detailed feasibility studies are currently being undertaken into the suitability of the various options open to us. Once these are concluded these options will be presented to Transport Scotland.”