CalMac bosses will be quizzed on Monday by concerned islanders over the state of Scotland’s ferry network.
CEO Robbie Drummond and operations director Robert Morrisons will answer questions from a range of stakeholders at a roundtable hosted by the UK Government.
It will be attended by several local action groups alongside MPs, MSPs, businesspeople and North Ayrshire and Argyll and Bute councils.
It comes as Scotland’s nationalised ferry service faces a number of issues including delays and cancellations.
Two ferries – the MV Glen Sannox and the MV Glen Rosa – set to replace ageing vessels are still being built by the state-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow.
The first vessel was meant to set sail in 2018 but isn’t expected to be delivered until May.
The two ferries were initially set to cost around £97m but that is expected to balloon to more than £350m by the time they are finished.
The UK Government said that while transport is devolved to the Scottish Government, it has been “monitoring the situation closely”.
UK Government minister for Scotland, John Lamont, said he has repeatedly heard from island communities and business owners in the west of Scotland of the impact “unreliable” services are having on the day-to-day lives of islanders.
He said: “I raised these issues with CalMac in writing, which resulted in a meeting between myself and Robbie Drummond. During that meeting it became clear to me that there was an opportunity for CalMac and Transport Scotland to engage more effectively with the people communities they serve.
“I want to ensure that the voices of stakeholders are being heard, which is why I have offered to host this forum today. It is important that we come together to find solutions to these problems where we can.
“I am aware that some stakeholders have ideas for how CalMac services can be improved and it would be great if we could build on some of these ideas. I am grateful to Robbie Drummond for his willing engagement and thank him and other attendees for agreeing to join today’s discussion.”
A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: “We are listening carefully to concerns raised by islanders and other ferry users and working hard to address these.
“Transport is devolved and the Minister for Transport regularly meets ferry community committees and has met the Ferry Communities Board in recent weeks.
“Last week we published our Islands Connectivity Plan and updated Vessels and Ports Plan and we encourage everyone with an interest to respond to our public consultation.
“The Plan is based on feedback from communities and stakeholders and further public events will be held throughout the consultation period.
“We also continue to consult on the development of the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract, with a series of public engagement sessions to ensure that future ferry services are fit for purpose and serve everyone who needs them.”
A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We welcome all efforts to advance proposals which will result in a more resilient ferry service between Arran and Ardrossan.
“It is important we listen to and act upon the information received from those most impacted by the interruption to ferry services. There’s no doubt that the current unreliability of the service is of major concern to our communities and businesses, both on the island and the mainland.
“We will continue to work closely with partners to promote the case for a reliable, resilient service between Arran and Ardrossan and we look forward to receiving an invitation to the summit.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country