The backup port for the Ardrossan to Arran ferry could be back in use by the end of the year, councillors were told at the latest full council meeting.

Gourock is meant to be the refuge point for the Arran ferry but the linkspan at the port has faced several issues and has been closed for essential repair and maintenance works.

At a meeting of full council, Councillor Tom Marshall, said: “Gourock has long been the port of refuge when the Arran ferry could not dock at Ardrossan…However, Gourock is not available as a port of refuge due to the reported lack of maintenance by Caledonian Marine Limited (CMAL) on the linkspan.

“In addition, the second pier - Irish Berth - at Ardrossan is also out of action. Both Gourock and the Irish Berth were used when certain weather conditions meant that the main Arran berth at Ardrossan was not usable.

The Conservative group leader asked the Cabinet Member for the Economy, Cllr Alex Gallagher: “Does the Member agree that this is an unacceptable situation that compromises both the reliability of the Arran ferry service and the safety of passengers in the event of an emergency? Will he also agree that this is an unacceptable situation and that immediate action is taken to provide the Arran ferry service with appropriate ports of refuge?”

The question from Cllr Marshal was just one of seven questions put forward by the Conservative group about the Arran ferry.

Cllr Alex Gallagher said: “The Conservative group imposing these questions are asking the wrong people…

“These are matters for the SNP Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, CMAL and Ferguson Marine. The mixture of incompetence here belongs with these groups and not with this council.”

Responding to Cllr Marshal’s question the Labour Cllr said: “We agree that this is an unacceptable situation. The Gourock linkspan has reached the end of its design life but CMAL has advised that they are undertaking work which will bring it back into full use at the end of 2020.

“At Ardrossan, Peel Ports Group (PPG) has advised that the Irish Berth linkspan has been available for the last two months for use in situations where the Arran Berth is unavailable. A letter has already been written to the Minister and when we have a meeting with him, we will ensure that this subject is on the agenda.”