THE UK Government has said it is “closely” monitoring problems with Scottish ferries – as a Tory minister held a “summit” with CalMac and islanders relying on the service.

Scotland Office Minister John Lamont will host a roundtable meeting on Monday with CalMac chief executive Robbie Drummond and operations director Robert Morrison.

Also taking part are the CalMac Ferries Communities Board, Colonsay Lifeline Transport Group, Arran Ferry Action Group, North Ayrshire and Argyll and Bute Councils, Arran Community Development Trust, Mull and Iona Community Trust, Tobermory Harbour Association, businesses, MSPs and MPs.

In a statement, the Scotland Office said that while powers over ferry services were devolved to Holyrood, UK ministers were “monitoring the situation closely”.

The National: John Lamont

Lamont (above) said: “One of the things I have heard repeatedly from communities and businesses stakeholders in the west of Scotland is the impact unreliable ferry services have on the islands and islanders' day-to-day lives.”

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He added: “I want to ensure that the voices of stakeholders are being heard, which is why I have offered to host this forum today. It is important that we come together to find solutions to these problems where we can.

“I am aware that some stakeholders have ideas for how CalMac services can be improved and it would be great if we could build on some of these ideas. I am grateful to Robbie Drummond for his willing engagement and thank him and other attendees for agreeing to join today's discussion.”

CalMac cancelled 40,989 sailings between September 2018 and April 2023, with “non-weather related cancellations” such as breakdowns in the ageing fleet, rising from 1371 in 2017-18 to a peak of 5,805 in 2021-22. This dropped to 4620 in 2022-23.

It comes as one of the overdue and overbudget ferries being built at the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, is due to begin its first sea trials in March.

Glen Sannox and her sister vessel Hull 802, now named MV Glen Rosa, were due to be ready by 2018 and serve the Arran route.