Mull and Iona Ferry Committee exists to represent island-resident users of our lifeline ferry services. Most Hebridean islands have Ferry Committees, and they have recognition from Transport Scotland, CMAL and CalMac as the conduit for local-level community consultation.
We are an entirely voluntary group of individuals giving our own time (sometimes quite a lot!), but we have some modest running costs that we can’t avoid, like meeting room hire, minute-taking and website hosting.
In the past these costs have been met through the generosity of donations from local businesses, but there is a limit to how often we feel comfortable picking on the same people!
If you can spare us a little bit of money to contribute to our costs, it will be hugely helpful and massively appreciated.
Here’s a list of some of our key work and achievements in recent years. You can go straight to the donation page if you like, or read on if you’d like to know what we do:
- We exposed chronic neglect of Craignure Pier by Argyll and Bute Council, resulting in a significant improvement and repairs effort.
- We pressed for improvements to Craignure Pier to enable over-night berthing, ultimately resulting in a much-overdue plan to replace the entire pier
- We regularly challenge CalMac on their weather-reliability record, and have exposed a progressive 20-year increase in weather-related cancellations, despite no worsening of winter weather conditions (we’ve spent more than £7,000 on Met Office data in relation to this, all donated by local businesses and individuals)
- Twice a year we consult with the community and work with CalMac to create timetables that meet community needs as best as possible.
- We have lobbied CalMac to abide by the Islands Act and perform Island Communities Impact Assessments when proposing new policies. Having initially denied that they were even subject to the Islands Act, CalMac now follow ICIA principles when consulting.
- Last year we were successful in opposing punitive new ticket amendment fees proposed by CalMac.
- This year we are working to remove more proposed punitive charges, including a proposal that if we miss the 30 minute check-in deadline, we will have to buy new tickets in addition to joining the un-booked queue.
- Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has agreed to trial an islander prioritisation booking scheme on the Craignure-Oban ferry service, modelled on the ‘Samso System’ that received 96% approval from the island community when we surveyed on it.
- As a result of robust surveying of local opinion, we have created a ‘Specification of User Requirements’ for the new vessels soon to be built for the Craignure-Oban service. The community clearly expressed a desire for a high-frequency, high-capacity service with a long operating day using moderately-sized ferries with good weather-resilience. We’ve advocated for a three-vessel solution, and that wish has been reflected in the newly-published long-term vessels plan, with the suggestion of a new class of medium-sized ferry for Mull.
- We’ve argued for, and received improvements to the ‘Urgent Medical Appointment Protocol’ that enables islanders to make mainland medical appointments even if the ferry is full.
- As a direct result of our efforts to persuade CMAL to buy a catamaran for Mull in 2020/21, the Loch Frisa was purchased for the route. Whilst far less capable than the cat, the Loch Frisa has (when operating alongside another vessel) led to a much longer operating day and a 40% increase in sailings. It could have been so much better – but a new vessel was a significant achievement that would not have come to Mull without our lobbying.
- We’ve exposed how CMAL created a catamaran ferry design for Islay that was deliberately intended to fail, in order to discredit a vessel type that we were advocating for at the same time.
- We’ve investigated and explained the concept of un-bundling to MSPs and parliament committees, in order to dispel misgivings and mis-information around the topic.
- We regularly help travellers with problems as they arise, by making contact with CalMac management to fund solutions to individual issues.
- We have raised the profile of the ferry issue at a national level, liaising with journalists and contributing to broadcast and print media on the topic regularly.
- We use Freedom of Information law to help inform our work and illuminate problems and solutions. Most notably, our persistence in pursuing withheld documents contributed to the BBC Disclosure ‘Ferries Fiasco’ documentary of last year, exposing that the FMEL technical bid for hulls 801 and 802 was a copy-and-paste of an internal CalMac document.
- We have exposed the misleading, biased and error-ridden options appraisal for the CMAL Islay replacement vessels, and how it will cost millions of pounds more than it could have.
- We’re investigating the feasibility of establishing a community-controlled ferry company for Mull, by commissioning a study from an independent consultancy.
- We will keep on advocating for island users and fighting for improved ferry services!
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
Mull and Iona Community Trust have kindly offered to help us, by collecting the funds on our behalf. So your donation will be going to them, and they will pass the funds on to us. We will be paying them a small fee to cover their costs.