Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Budget cuts may sink Yoker to Renfrew ferry service

By Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland local government correspondent

Renfrew - Yoker ferry
The current ferries have been in service for 26 years

A question mark is hanging over the future of one of Scotland's oldest ferry services because of budget cuts.

Councillors are set to consider closing the service between Yoker on the north bank of the River Clyde and Renfrew on the south.

The route is heavily subsidised and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is looking at ways of saving £2.5m from its annual budget.

SPT is due to decide the fate of the ferry link at a special budget meeting next week.

About 140,000 passengers take the short journey across the Clyde from Yoker, near Clydebank, to Renfrew every year.

If the service were to close, the decision would be hugely controversial locally.

An SPT spokesperson said: "SPT, like many other local government agencies and local councils, is facing severe financial problems. For next year's budget we have to find savings of £2.5m.

SPT would have the taxpayer squander £140m on the Glasgow Airport Rail Link but can't find the sums involved to keep this centuries-old Renfrew-Yoker service running
Councillor Bill Perrie
SNP, Renfrew North

"To that end we are looking at every line of our budget including our current subsidies to bus, Subway and ferry services.

"No final decisions have been made nor will be made until SPT's special budget meeting on the 22nd of January."

Two passenger ferries run on the service - the Renfrew Rose and Yoker Swan.

Each ferry can carry 50 passengers but in practice it is believed there are rarely more than 12 on one trip.

There were around 140,000 passenger journeys on the ferry last year.

Costly maintenance

SPT provides a subsidy of about £400,000 each year to sustain the service - about £2.70 per passenger per journey.

The two ferries have been in service for 26 years. They are coming towards the end of their useful lives and have become increasingly costly and difficult to maintain.

Although the Scottish government is not responsible for the Renfrew-Yoker ferry, opposition parties are likely to attempt to turn it into a campaigning issue.

In turn, local SNP campaigners are likely to point the finger on what they describe as the "Labour-led SPT".

Having had discussions with the SPT, I am left in no doubt that this decision to cut this ferry route is down to a lack of funding from the Scottish Executive
John Robertson MP
Labour, Glasgow North West

Renfrew North SNP councillor Bill Perrie told his local newspaper: "I am outraged by this proposal from the Labour-led SPT.

"To axe the ferry in Renfrew would be like axing the Glasgow underground for them.

"This cut at the hands of a Labour-led transport body is appalling.

"SPT would have the taxpayer squander £140m on the Glasgow Airport Rail Link but can't find the sums involved to keep this centuries-old Renfrew-Yoker service running."

Last autumn the Scottish government decided to cancel plans for a rail link to Glasgow Airport to the fury of the Labour Party, some business organisations and Glasgow City Council.

Spending row

The Labour MPs who represent the constituencies at each end of the ferry route claimed it was a victim of the Scottish government's spending decisions.

Councils get most of their money from the Scottish government - and government spending is under pressure. The Scottish government in turn blames Westminster for budget cuts.

John Robertson, Labour MP for Glasgow North West, said: "Having had discussions with the SPT, I am left in no doubt that this decision to cut this ferry route is down to a lack of funding from the Scottish Executive."

Labour MP Jim Sheridan, whose constituency includes Renfrew, added: "The Renfrew Rose is extremely important for people to get access to their places of work, especially my constituents who depend on public transport."

A ferry service of some sort is thought to have operated between Yoker and Renfrew for 500 years.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Clyde ferry service to be saved
10 Oct 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Go-ahead for Renfrew bridge study
28 Sep 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific