AN Arran based lobbying group have vented their frustrations after alleged decades of under investment and planning to the island’s ferry network caused travel disruptions.

Arran Ferry Action Group (AFAG) claim that their concerns are being ignored by decision makers, with delays to Ardrossan Harbour upgrades and a delayed new ferry not being addressed.

Delayed work to Ardrossan Harbour, which is owned by Peel Ports and requires urgent action to the site’s buffer system, is a major reason for the travel disruption.

The group have said that they are being ignored by the area’s MSP Kenneth Gibson, and receive no help from ferry organisation CalMac and Transport Scotland.

The problems have caused ferry delays and cancellations, as well as services on the island being disrupted.

An AFAG spokesperson said: “The CalMac ferry network has suffered from decades of under-investment and poor infrastructure planning, resulting in an aging fleet that is struggling to cope.

“A fundamental lack of proper island representation on bodies such as CalMac, CMAL, and the Ardrossan Harbour Task Force exacerbates these problems with community views continually rebuffed and ignored.

“The end result is people in positions of authority, who lack the lived experience of dealing with an unreliable service, are making decisions on matters that directly affect the fundamental viability of our islands - frequently without properly taking into account the views and concerns of the very island communities they claim to represent.

“As it stands, we have a new pier in Brodick that is hopelessly compromised in an easterly wind, a massively delayed new ferry, and a significantly delayed upgrade to the harbour at Ardrossan.

“The current disruption on the Arran service is creating a perfect storm of long term negative social and economic impacts.

"It needs to change, and it must change rapidly.”

A spokesperson for CalMac said: “We recognise the impact that weather disruptions have, particularly resulting in the cancellation of the 07:00 ex Ardrossan.

“We are working with Peel Ports, the Harbour Authority for Ardrossan, to ensure they carry out the necessary repairs to the fenders on the Arran berth which will help improve the reliability of the service, allowing the boat to berth overnight in Ardrossan in worse weather conditions than it currently is able to.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We are doing everything that we can to support CalMac to maximise available capacity across the network.

“We acknowledge the CMAL fleet is aging and as such we are delivering new tonnage to support our communities by working with CMAL, CalMac, MSPs, community representatives and others to develop investment programmes - at least £580 million over the next five years - for major vessels and small vessels.”

A Peel Ports spokesperson said: “We have approached CalMac Ferries with a proposal to strengthen the facilities after damage caused by an incident involving one of their vessels.

“If the proposal is agreed, we will aim to start work by next spring.

“In the meantime, we are working closely with them to ensure there is continued service.”

Kenneth Gibson MSP for Cunninghame North, who raised the issues of ferry cancellations directly with the First Minister earlier this month, added: “Hopefully, as of this weekend, we will have MV Loch Alainn available at Largs to operate to Cumbrae, which should have sufficient capacity, as it is a larger vessel than MV Loch Tarbert.

“That will also alleviate the gas delivery problem for Arran, as MV Loch Tarbert will then relocate to Tarbert to provide the back door route to Lochranza.”