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News of funding to replace Lismore’s ageing ferry and keep the lifeline service running has been welcomed on the island.
Residents, who mounted a ‘noisy’ campaign to make themselves heard, are claiming it a victory for common sense.
Roger Dixon-Spain, who was one of them, said: ‘It’s fantastic news, it’s just wonderful to think we made enough noise to make ourselves heard – not just by having the meeting but all the letters that were sent. There was a huge community response and thankfully we have been listened to.’
Community councillors have also been credited for doing ‘a great job’.
The current ferry craft that needs replacing has been around since the early seventies although ferry crossings between the island and the mainland go back to the Middle Ages.
‘It’s a huge relief, it just means we can all get on with our lives now. Common sense has prevailed. The community council were the main movers in this, they did a great job,’ added Mr Dixon-Smith.
And chairman of Lismore Community Trust Sebastion Tombs said: ‘This is all excellent news and everyone I speak to here is greatly relieved that reason has prevailed, as well as appreciative of all the efforts made by many folk to campaign strongly for this result; and, indeed, appreciative that those with the power to enable this to happen have responded so positively.’
The funding will also support the continuation of ferry services to other islands near Oban – Easdale and Luing.
Last week the leader of Argyll and Bute Council Councillor Aileen Morton also welcomed the additional £954,000 from the Scottish Government for island ferry services.
‘I am pleased that the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands listened to what we had to say and is providing an additional £954,000 for Argyll and Bute Council ferry services.
Councillor Morton confirmed £500,000 of that funding will be used to provide Lismore’s new ferry. ‘The rest will support the continuation of ferry services to a number of our islands,’ she said.
Councillor Morton said: ‘We’re glad to see our island ferry services receive fair funding. While we will continue to discuss the potential transfer to Transport Scotland, this funding removes one element of the financial pressures we face this year.’
Chairman of Seil and Easdale Community council Julie Ferris said it would be good if at some point there might be money in the pot to replace Easdale and Luing’s ferries that ‘are not exactly in the first flush of youth’.
‘We wrote to everyone we could think off to help get this funding to help keep our ferry running, from our MPs to MSPs and Paul Wheelhouse who visited us last summer. We’re glad our voices were heard,’ she said and added: ‘ It would be nice to think at some point there might be money to buy new ferries for Easdale and Luing as well, neither are exactly in the first flush of youth.’
And Luing Community Council chairman Mike Barlow shared those sentiments.
‘We are really pleased that the Scottish Government has given this money to the council and hope the money will be found to replace our wee passenger boat and the Belnahua car ferry over the next few years, too,’ he said.