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The unpopular Argyll Ferries vessels Ali Cat and Argyll Flyer will ply the Dunoon-Gourock route for a while yet after Transport minister Humza Yousaf today (Thursday) delayed the tender process for the route by nine months.


Argyll Ferries contract was supposed to end in June but today’s announcement – that a review will take place about whether there is a need to tender for the route – throws the future into doubt.


The Scottish Government is examining whether, under European rules, a competitive tender is necessary at all.


Mr Yousaf said: “I don’t want to prejudice or pre-empt the outcome of the review, but it may be possible to provide ferry services through an ‘in-house’ operator.”


The review is expected to last for about nine months and comes after advice from the European Commission.


Britain's exit from the European Union also means ministers may no longer have to comply with EU regulation.


Labour MSPs welcomed the review, saying there was growing pressure for ferry services not to be put out to tender. However, the Conservatives expressed concern that commercial ferry operators could be frozen out in future.


The expected new, larger boats for the Dunoon route could be some years away yet…


Local reaction in next Friday's Standard.

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