THE new Arran ferry will be delayed beyond June, it was confirmed last week.

The MV Glen Sannox has been in the pipeline for over a year now but continuing problems mean that it will be after the summer before we see it sailing between Ardrossan and Brodick.

In response to a portfolio question in Holyrood, Scottish ministers confirmed to Conservative MSP Jamie Greene that the MV Glen Sannox would be delayed past the revised June 2019 timetable.

The West Scotland MSP told the Herald: “Over the last year I have dealt with several cashes of Arran residents who have not been able to access health care, social care or other key public services because of issues around the ferry.

“This ferry is a lifeline route for residents on both shores but unfortunately the current vessels operating the route are no longer fitfor purpose, which is evident in the persistent disruption that passengers experience on a daily basis.

“It is extremely disappointing that the ferry will now be delayed past the revised June 2019 timetable as passengers will have to endure further months of delays and cancellations.

“The Scottish Government must ensure that the Glen Sannox is completed in good time and operational so that we can move past these disruptions and let people get on with their lives.”

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands Paul Wheelhouse MSP said: “The on-going delay to the delivery of the vessels is of great concern to ministers and is, clearly, hugely frustrating to stakeholders. That is particularly so for the communities who will benefit from their eventual deployment and for the operat or, CalMac Ferries. Although, from a contractual perspective, management of the contract is for Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, Scottish ministers are closely monitoring the situation regarding delivery of the new ferries.

"We have concerns that FMEL’s projected delivery timescale for the Glen Sannox in June this year cannot be met, so officials have written seeking clarification on delivery timescales for both vessels.

“The difficulties are that the vessels are new ones for a yard that has been building up its workforce and is a relatively recently re-established business. We must recognise the challenges in that.

“That said, we have concerns about how the contract has operated so far, although I do not want to intrude in areas in which there is on-going engagement with CMAL. Since we have commissioned the vessels from FMEL, performance on the contract has been the subject of discussion between the two parties.”

Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North said: “I was pleased that the minister met me and representatives of Arran Ferry Committee last Tuesday, to discuss the Glen Sannox and the Arran ferry service.

“The delay in the new vessel is deeply disappointing. When it does enter service it will make a hugely positive difference to the island. I asked the minister to outline what measures he is taking to improve fleet resilience and reliability while work on the Glen Sannox continues.

“Mr Wheelhouse accepted that capacity is very constrained at the moment, not least because the SNP Government boosted visitor numbers by cutting ferry fares by 57 per cent in 2014 on the route, so ministers need to ensure that every vessel is working as efficiently as possible, to minimise the risk of its going out of service.

“In the past financial year £3.5 million was invested in a resilience fund, and in this year, a further £4 million.

“The measures being progressed are as follows: When vessels are in dry dock effort will be maximised and every piece of work undertaken to ensure that vessels are prepared for the season ahead, by building on knowledge of the previous year’s operations and problems. All issues will then be tackled at once, thereby minimising the need for such work to be done during the summer season, which is the busiest period of the year.

“The SNP Government has more than doubled the ferries budget since it came to office, showing how important it considers island communities to be. Scottish ministers are take very seriously the need to ensure islanders and visitors are served throughout the summer season.”