Ferry service under threat
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• Controversial plans to scale down ferry services on the west coast of Scotland could have a devastating effect on local hauliers' businesses.
The Gourock to Dunoon ferry service operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (GalMac) Is under threat because EU legislation only allows passenger subsidies to be used for a passenger-only service. To meet regulations, the service is being put to competitive tender.
Dunoon-based Blacks Transport is concerned that a reduction in services will severely disrupt its tight margins.
'It will drastically and adversely affect the town's business," says owner Charles Black. "Our contract is with CalMac. They guarantee a passage on a beat."
Black stresses that Western Ferries, the only other ferry operator In the area, offers a good service, but it operates from a terminal two miles from the centre of Gourock and Dunoon and could not guarantee space.
"Mast of the operators are working to strict schedules," says Pier Pressure representative Ronnie Smith. "In a congestion situation where you can't get on a ferry and you have to wait, It could very badly affect your schedule. A harf-hour delay could be catastrophic."
Details about the plans are currently being considered by the Scottish Executive: "We will give a decision at the beginning of next year," says a spokeswoman.
A spokesperson for Western Ferries was unavailable for comment.