The new CalMac Community Board is launching an initiative aimed at cutting the disruption caused by ferry failures in the CalMac fleet.

At their meeting held at Largs and Millport on 19th and 20th April, the Community Board was unanimous in delivering a strong message on behalf of their communities to CalMac's managing director, Robbie Drummond and other members of CalMac's management team.

Overwhelmingly the main concern was that measures being taken to deal with a recent vessel breakdown are failing to prevent major disruption which is bringing significant economic damage and having a detrimental impact on individual and family life in the Islands.

Cuts in timetabled sailings, deployment of vessels with inadequate capacities and inability to book even available space in some cases are all adversely impacting  communities' and  the sustainability of local businesses.

While the board recognised that CalMac have to operate with the resources available to them there was huge frustration that when at peak times and periods of full capacity the service is at serious risk if even one vessel is out of action as at present.

The board says it "has offered to positively work with CalMac in formulating a plan, including more robust contingency and prioritisation measures, which will help to protect the lifeline ferry services in the short, medium and longer term.

"Areas such as fleet resilience, maintenance/dry docking,  purchase/charter of additional tonnage, crew transferability etc will all be included in the mix. Robbie Drummond has accepted the offer and a small group of Community Board members has been identified to start working with CalMac, CMAL and Transport Scotland as soon as possible.

"The board feels it can contribute a legitimate community perspective to future planning decisions that will affect the service and communities in the network.

"Communications have also been a serious issue and it is important that not only should these be consistent but they must be informative and comprehensive and take into account the likely effects in all relevant communities. Again the Communities Board has offered assistance to CalMac in this area and this has been accepted."

The Communities Board is focussed on working with CalMac, Transport Scotland, CMAL and other stakeholders to help address weaknesses and and to identify measures that can be taken to initiate improvements in line with community expectations and needs.