The former director of the shipbuilding firm contracted to supply the new CalMac ferries will appear before an inquiry committee today.

Jim McColl, who ran Ferguson Marine and was in charge of the shipyard where the ferries were being built before it collapsed, will face the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (REC) in private.

The REC have been conducting an inquiry into the construction and procurement of ferry vessels in Scotland, including the one destined to service the crossing to Arran.

Mr McColl, an independence supporting industrialist, took over Ferguson Marine when it was bought by his Clyde Bowers empire in 2014.

The following year, the yard at Port Glasgow won the £97 million contract to build the two hybrid ferries for Caledonian Asset Management Limited (CMAL), the government owned body which operates CalMac.

The completion of the vessels is fours years late and costs have risen to double the original budget.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, who blamed the previous management for the problems, installed “turnaround director” Tim Hair to get the project back on track.

According to Mr Hair, the completion of the vessels would cost another £110m, on top of £83m already paid.

Mr McColl blamed CMAL for the issues, rejecting the criticism of his management.

Councillor Timothy Billings, from Arran, said: “These issues are costing us money, hardship and inconveniences.

“It’s been frustrating, but there is a sense of relief that it’s now getting attention.

“The solution needs to be the best for Arran and other islands, not the best to save face for the Scottish Government.”

A Freedom of Information request submitted by Mark Casey, from Lamlash, revealed that over 300 sailings were cancelled last year.

Cancellations, residents say, have a direct impact on the island’s economy and quality of life.

On the first day of the inquiry it was claimed that the shipyard was too small to construct the ferries side by side.

Alex Logan, GMB convener at Ferguson’s, told the committee: “You’ve got a concrete shipyard. It can take one big vessel and possibly a small vessel. But in my opinion, we could not facilitate to build two vessels that size so close together because the ground wasn’t sufficient enough.”

Facing criticism for the fiasco from the committee’s Tory chair, Edward Mountain, the SNP were defended by Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan who said: “The Tories have presided over decades of decline in Clyde shipbuilding. The SNP stepped in and saved Ferguson’s, but the Tories would rather give those contracts to South Korea.”

The inquiry is expected to receive evidence from representatives of CMAL later this months on February 26.

Then, on March 26, Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands will appear before the REC.