With no reply to our letter to Argyll and Bute Chief Executive Clelland Sneddon yet received, the email below has now been sent –
Dear Mr Sneddon,
It has been three weeks since I wrote to you, below, asking for your personal response to the concerns the community have regarding the way Argyll and Bute Council are managing the Craignure pier; much as I have no reason to believe you are being deliberately discourteous I am sure you can see how it looks from the perspective of me, the other interested parties cc’d into this email and most importantly our community.
You did ‘cc’ me into your personal reply to another correspondent (June 5th) advising that officers were holding a meeting with community representatives on June 4th and that you would be following up with the officers after that meeting; that meeting was 2 weeks ago.
Assuming you have now followed up, you will be aware that your officers presented a rather clumsy Terms of Reference document for the group, attached, which deliberately moved to exclude the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee (MIFC) from all further meetings (bullet point 5 was the giveaway); it also excluded 2 other key stakeholders, CMAL and CalMac. You will have been made aware of the written representations regarding this proposed ToR, and I am pleased to say that due to the intervention of other community groups and Transport Scotland, CMAL, CalMac and MIFC now all have a seat at the table of the Craignure Marine Infrastructure Liason Group (CMILG).
You will also be aware that you have formed this group to be a forum to discuss the marine infrastructure at Craignure and the options available to the public bodies involved to deliver an infrastructure which will meet the community needs and be fit for purpose for the next 60+years. There is nothing in the ToR regarding the daily management of the pier – quite correctly in my view – daily management should have no bearing on strategic future plans.
I was disappointed you did not grasp the opportunity to meet with the community you serve when I suggested you attend the CMILG meeting on June 4th especially as it was entirely focussed around what you describe as ‘the biggest single investment the council has ever considered’.
I did attend the meeting, and apart from an intervention from Councillor Devon expressing the embarrassment she experiences when she travels on the ferry and is asked by the skippers why pier defects they have reported months earlier are not rectified, the large part of the meeting focussed on the future plans (or rather lack of plans) which the council has for interim solutions to provide for the vessels scheduled under the VRDP. Unfortunately at the time of writing neither the minutes, nor the promised time line for the costing of interim options which is being drawn up by your ‘in house marine experts’ has been circulated.
Thus, your June 5th comment to the other correspondent regarding the CMILG meeting is a red herring.
I am asking for a very simple thing – will you please personally comment on the gross mismanagement of Craignure pier by your direct reports, which is patently obvious to anyone who looks at the data YOU provided with the FOIs which YOU initiated in response to my letter of April 8th (despite me pleading that you did not treat my letter as a ‘glorified FOI’).
I and the MIFC have initiated regular meetings with your officers and the other stakeholders, CalMac, CMAL and Transport Scotland since 2014 in an effort to try to get the pier to a state where it could cope reliably with running the current service, be fit for the winter service we desperately need, and the vessels planned for the route under the VRDP. Mr Sneddon, I’d prefer not to be conducting this personal correspondence with you in public, but after 5 years of the council not taking one single material step towards the jointly agreed goal I can’t think of what else I can do to try and get you, as the Chief Executive, to sit up and take notice of what is going on (or rather not going on) with the Craignure pier, our lifeline to the mainland, and to engage with the community.
If you’d prefer to come to meet in person here on Mull, please do, this will be my 3rd invitation to you to sit around a table and try to move forward.
Chair, Mull and Iona Ferry Committee