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Minutes of a January meeting of the Gourock-Dunoon Ferry Services Steering Group – published this week – state that a local pressure group asked to be involved in ‘the assessment and scoring’ of tender submissions for the route. Dunoon Gourock Ferry Action Group (DGFAG), however, say the record is inaccurate.




The heavily redacted minutes of the January 19 meeting, chaired by then-transport minister Derek MacKay, state: “In response to a request from DGFAG to be involved in the assessment and scoring of tender submission [name redacted] responded that Transport Scotland, as the contracting authority, could not delegate its legal responsibilities and liability for the assessment, scoring and outcome of the tender competition to third parties.”


DGFAG, however, say that it did not ask to be part of the tender assessment process.


A spokesman said: “The minutes – which have yet to be approved – are wrong. It’s obvious that nobody would tender knowing that some pressure group would be scoring their submission.


“We wanted to be invo0lved in discussing the tender specification – not the details of the tenders.”


The contract for the Gourock – Dunoon ferry service, currently operated by Argyll Ferries Ltd, expires in June next year. However, concerns are growing as invitations to tender for the route have yet to be issued by Transport Scotland.


The minutes of the January meeting say: “Transport Scotland would offer meetings with potential operators in advance of the contract notice .” But goes on to say: “[name redacted] couldn’t provide firm dates at this stage, but the initial timetable anticipated the contract notice being published early summer, with the invitation to tender being issued to qualifying participants later in the summer.”


The minute goes on to say: “[name redacted] informed the group that bidders would be invited to tender for a passenger-only service, whilst providing a vehicle-carrying service at their own commercial risk, with no subsidy.”


The meeting was advised that the timing of availability of vessels would not affect the decision. The minute states: “The new contract will begin in June 2017, with any new vessel(s) being made available as soon as practicable thereafter.”


DGFAG will be holding an open meeting about the ferry situation next Tuesday (June 28) at St Mun’s Church Hall at 7.30pm.


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