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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Shipyard wins ferry firm lifeline
Ferguson's said the contract would give it breathing space
An Inverclyde shipyard thrown into crisis by the awarding of a CalMac ferry order to Poland has been handed a lifeline by another operator.

Western Ferries, which operates from Dunoon to Gourock, has placed a 500,000 order for a roll on/roll off terminal with Ferguson's yard.

The Port Glasgow yard had to pay off about 100 workers after it lost out on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry order.

The Polish yard also beat it to a fisheries protection vessel contract.

Publicly-owned ferry company CalMac operates the majority of sea crossings to Scottish islands including Gourock-Dunoon, in direct competition with Western Ferries.

Competition rules

The executive insisted shipyards outside the UK had to be given the chance to tender for the building of a new ferry for the CalMac Wemyss Bay to Rothesay route.

The Remontowa yard in Gdansk was named as the preferred bidder for the contracts despite claims that Polish yards had been given unfair subsidies.

Scottish Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie said he had no grounds on which to exclude the Polish yard.

I do believe that having a shipyard on our doorstep is critical to our future development
Gordon Ross
Western Ferries managing director

The executive has received notification from the EU that there would not be an investigation into the competition claims.

A spokesman for Ferguson welcomed the Western Ferries order saying it gave the yard breathing space.

Western Ferries managing director Gordon Ross said he was delighted to be able to award the contract for a new Gourock vessel to the local yard.

He added: "However, I do believe that having a shipyard on our doorstep is critical to our future development and I hope that others, such as the Scottish Executive, feel the same way too.

"The loss of the last executive contracts to yards outside Scotland threatens this and represents a lost opportunity, not just for Western Ferries, but also the Scottish business community as a whole."

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