In my last post I told you about what was, in effect, the council sticking two fingers up at Audit Scotland by removing more powers from the area committees. Last year they started that process by taking the responsibility for piers and harbours away from area committees. There are some advantages in having a single committee dealing with ports and harbours but these are hugely outweighed by the lack of local knowledge and control.
I wrote about Dunoon Pier and Harbour in January 2016, here. With the very recent announcement that the tender for replacement vessels will specify vessels of 40m in length, there is a clear opportunity for an unsubsidised vehicle service to operate with a subsidised passenger service because vessels of this length are too big for passengers alone. The need for 40m in length is to greatly improve reliability as this length is needed to meet poor sea conditions safely.
Read January’s piece first to give you the background, here.
Late last week I felt we had to try again to review the current harbour charges at Dunoon. I am advised by people who know that we need to treat each harbour as a separate market and that means having clear and transparent income and expenditure figures and setting charges that are fair to users while producing a reasonable profit to the operator of the harbour. There needs to be provision in the costings to replace the facility when that is needed, eg a new linkspan or whatever.
I was in touch with the members of the ferry action group over last weekend and proposed a motion to go to the August area committee. The original motion is available at this link: Motion for Area Committee Meeting Aug 16
Because the duties of being a harbour authority were removed from the area committee I expected some issues over its competence. These were duly raised by officers and last night I sent a re-worded version that is more likely to be competent but less likely to see a direct result. All I can do is urge Messrs Walsh and Morton to set up a review rather than a motion that directly sets up a review. If they ignore it, like they did in December last year, there is little that can be done.
If they do ignore it, they will also be ignoring the fact that we now know the Dunoon Linkspan operation for the current woeful ferry service costs council tax payers some £6,576 per week, yes, per week. Instead of making a reasonable profit, it makes a huge loss. But Dick Walsh seems to think this is OK while the grass isn’t cut, school librarians are sacked, bins are emptied every 3 weeks, clerical staff are made redundant etc etc.
As a result, I wrote again last night to Audit Scotland telling them how lacking in power area committees were despite them urging otherwise as in my last post, here.
It would be easy to despair.