Angry North Ayrshire councillors are demanding answers to delays to the construction of two ferries which are years overdue and over budget - and have backed a call for a police investigation into the fiasco.

MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s public audit committee are currently investigating why two new vessels being built at the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow are well overdue and over budget.

The first of those two vessels, the MV Glen Sannox, which was launched in November 2017, is due to enter service on the Ardrossan-Brodick route when it is finally handed over to its new owners - currently expected to be early next year.

However, the Scottish Government has since suggested that the second vessel - as yet unnamed, and currently known only as 'Hull 802' - could also be used on the Arran service to provide additional summer capacity when it is eventually completed.

A motion was laid before North Ayrshire Council demanding a police investigation into the procurement of the two new ships following a recent BBC documentary into the affair.

The motion by Ardrossan Labour councillor Amanda Kerr stated: “In light of allegations made in the BBC Scotland Disclosure episode, the Great Ferries Scandal, which relates to the procurement of two including the Glen Sannox, council instructs the chief Executive to write to Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone of Police Scotland, requesting that the force carries out a full and thorough investigation into all aspects of the ferries procurement process. 

“Council also instructs the chief executive to request that all members of the Ardrossan ministerial taskforce co-operate fully with any investigation.”

Councillor Robert Foster, who presented the motion on behalf of Councillor Kerr, who was unable to attend, said:  “Councillor Kerr has been inundated with complaints and questions regarding the ferry. 

"I am sure it is also the case for Councillor Ferguson, Councillor Burns and Councillor Gurney.

“With such speculation being publicly presented, it would be reasonable to request a thorough inquiry to be carried out by Police Scotland with full co-operation from the Ardrossan Ferry Taskforce. I didn’t intend this to be party political. 

“The BBC Scotland documentary raised fundamental issues about the tender process. I believe North Ayrshire Council should fully comply with any investigation. “

The authority's depute leader, SNP councillor Shaun Macaulay, said: “Given this is a live situation, and given the action by the Scottish Government that Audit Scotland are investigating it and the Scottish Parliament are investigating, I don’t see the benefit of a politician interfering on this stage on legal matters surrounding this, and we shouldn’t pre-judge the outcome of the investigations which are currently live.”

Council leader Marie Burns (SNP) said that the motion implied alleged criminality which needed to be investigated, and said the Ardrossan Ferry Taskforce wasbeing dragged into it.

Arran ward councillor Timothy Billings (Conservative) said the island could be irreparably harmed with fewer visiting because of ferry concerns and shortages of supplies, and said pressure had to be applied to force an independent inquiry.

The motion was carried by 19 votes to 11.