A SENIOR Argyll and Bute councillor says he is "confident" a solution can be found for Kilcreggan's ferry service that meets the needs of the community.

Councillor Andrew Kain visited the village’s community council earlier this month, and has also held meetings with residents and local councillors.

It is hoped that Transport Scotland is close to finalising designs for the new passenger ferries linking Kilcreggan, Gourock and Dunoon.

But the proposals for Kilcreggan have sparked significant opposition from village residents - and strong criticism of the consultation process.

The preferred option of the council, and Transport Scotland, is to build a new concrete pontoon and breakwater to accommodate the new, larger passenger ferries planned to operate on the Gourock-Kilcreggan and Gourock-Dunoon routes.

That option would leave Kilcreggan's existing wooden Victorian pier for "leisure and recreational use only" - with many people in the area worried that that course of action increases the risk of the wooden pier deteriorating to the point where it is no longer useable, as has happened with the pier in Helensburgh.

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Councillor Kain’s report will go before a meeting of the full council, its last before summer recess, on Thursday, June 29.

He said: “As has been the case throughout, the objective is to improve the reliability and resilience of the ferry service between the village, the wider community and Gourock. This is within the constraints under which we must operate.

“After a frank and constructive discussion I believe we have an opportunity to more fully engage with the community now and when confirmation of ferries is achieved.

“The community have done considerable work in outlining an holistic vision on how to improve the attraction, facilities and economic future of Kilcreggan.

"Part of this vision is reliable ferry services that will better enable developments in tourism and improved access for locals.

“Transport Scotland is (hopefully) close to confirming the designs for new passenger ferries coming into operation on the Gourock, Dunoon and Kilcreggan routes.

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“I am confident, once it is clear on vessel design that, working with the community the service can deliver a solution that is sympathetic to the community vision with our objectives aligned.

“A solution that will enable berthing in more difficult conditions provide greater resilience, contribute to economic benefit and enhance local communications.”

Helensburgh's pier has not been used for regular passenger ferry services since the Helensburgh leg of the old Gourock-Kilcreggan-Helensburgh route was axed in the spring of 2012.

That left the paddle steamer Waverley's summer visits as the only regular calls at Helensburgh pier - and those ceased when the pier was declared unsafe by council officials in October 2018, with no clear picture, nearly five years on, of how or when it might be brought back into use.

Two years after its closure a group set up with hopes of breathing new life into Helensburgh's pier was disbanded after its members said its efforts were "a hopeless cause" and slammed what they said was the council's lack of interest in working on a new vision for the structure.

Plans to include Helensburgh's pier in a bid to the UK Government for Levelling Up funding were controversially dropped last year.

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Moving the Kilcreggan ferry to a new breakwater and pontoon would leave the Waverley's summer visits as the only regular use of the village's Victorian pier.

Meanwhile, Councillor Kain also welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government of a final proposal for permanent works on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.

A separate report on the stretch of road will also go before the full council at the meeting.

He added: “It is my understanding that given the majority of the proposals will take place on the existing carriageway, the construction process should be able to commence much sooner than if an alternative route was to be chosen due to a reduction in consents, permission, land acquisitions etc. being required.

“That said, points of detail will be incredibly important, and as a council I would suggest we need to understand the duration of the physical works, the capacity and speed of the use of the alternative route during the construction phase, the return to service plan should the alternative route not be available, the vision for walkers, cyclists, wheelers and equestrian users, and finally, the operating plan particularly around dealing with any collisions or broken down vehicles within the covered section of the route.

“We will of course be engaging with the new transport minister (Fiona Hyslop) to ensure she is fully aware of the strategic importance of the Rest to the economy of Argyll and Bute and therefore Scotland; and that the construction phase has the potential to cause considerable further disruption.”