Jamie Greene, Scottish Conservatives West Scotland MSP, says he will fight for better ferry services for island residents.


When I was first elected, one of my biggest personal goals was to fight for better ferry services for our island residents, particularly those living on Arran.

Although the Scottish Government may have had good intentions when acquiring the Ferguson Marine shipyard back in 2019, there has been a failure in leadership and judgement.

Addressing these failures has been at the heart of my activities over the past few weeks.

At the beginning of June, Parliament met to discuss the ongoing delays with the two ferries being built on the Clyde. I made it clear that regardless of the motivations behind the decisions which got us to this point, the Scottish Government needs to face accountability for its role in this scandal.

Sadly, the only people currently paying the price for all of this are Scottish taxpayers, the increasingly stranded residents on Arran, and the once renowned reputation of Ferguson Marine.

Irvine Times: MSP Jamie GreeneMSP Jamie Greene (Image: Jamie Greene)

Last week, I also challenged the minister for small business, innovation, tourism and trade. I directly asked him if the Scottish Government had any plans to compensate island businesses for the losses they have suffered due to failing connections to the mainland.

The minister’s response indicated that aside from vague commitments, the Scottish Government has no plan to provide a specific compensation scheme for islanders.

Nevertheless, islanders deserve far better, and I will continue to work constructively with the Scottish Government to aid struggling island businesses like those in Arran.

Amidst the political theatre, the impact these scandals have had on Arran’s tourism sector have gone largely unnoticed beyond the island.

But for many island businesses, holidaygoers are the life blood of island economies in Scotland. Tourism brings money, jobs, and investment to our islands, so we must continue to support it.

During another debate on ferries last week, I did something unusual and read a letter from a constituent and frequent visitor to Arran.

He eloquently outlined the painful saga of last-minute cancellations, the “lottery system” for boarding ferries (despite booking weeks in advance), and the anxiety of potentially being stranded on his way home.

Mr Milligan also expressed his concerns for the small businesses of Arran, and how they would suffer as a result of tourists being kept away from Arran.

His fears for island businesses were, sadly, not unfounded.

The well-known Auchrannie Resort was forced to write huge losses into its books last year as a direct result of trips cancelled by ferry disruption.

Shockingly, the Arran Ferry Action Group estimates that the island collectively suffers a £12,800 hit to the economy per cancellation.

The last few weeks have revealed much about the importance of transparency and accountability in politics. The Scottish Government was quick to blame former ministers, Calmac, and Ferguson Marine, perhaps knowing that they would not be able to defend themselves.

Ultimately, however, the buck must stop with the Scottish Government, and we must now work together to chart a viable new course for our ferries and islanders.