At Random with Martin Laing

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Patience wearing thin

Hmm. CalMac. Let us consider.

I have written on a number of occasions urging sympathy for CalMac and its staff and patience on the part of passengers when it comes to the company’s inability to extend the services it exists to provide.

I am not a regular user of CalMac’s ferries, only an occasional boarder, but even for me the firm’s problems are becoming unsustainable. Quite what it is like for those travellers who depend on the CalMac sailings, I am beginning to despair.

I try very hard in this space not to delve into politics, principally because I am not interested in party squabbles, yet I suspect it is nigh on impossible not to do so when discussing CalMac. Yet again in recent days, The Oban Times has chronicled service failures, cancelled sailings and a pretty much assured prediction of more disruption to come.

Add to that the news that two new vessels deemed as essential to improve services are to be built in Turkey, and I have to switch my sympathies to the hard-done-by passengers who are left high and dry.

And don’t forget, some of CalMac’s passengers are businesses for whom the ferry company is vital to get their products to market.

The bottom line is CalMac simply has to do better. Why a Scottish or even British boat-builder could not be found for the new ships to be constructed in Turkey leaves me puzzled. Surely the contracts could have been awarded to our own industrialists?

CalMac and the politicians to whom its bosses report must do better. They must provide vessels to keep services running and routes viable, by whatever means necessary. And they should award the new contract for the new vessels to one of our own boatyards.

Shiver me timbers!

Open-water swimmers from across Argyll – including my chum, the always delightful Oban Times reporter Kathie Griffiths – have raised around £500 for Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid by plunging into the freezing water at Ganavan, just outside Oban.

I tip my tile to you all. Very well done!

What do you think? Send your comments to editor@obantimes.co.uk