The Oban Times reports that the Award-winning Jura Passenger Ferry Service will not run this year because of a lack of support from the local authority and government, say the ferry operators. The three-year pilot project to run a passenger ferry service between Craighouse on the Isle of Jura and Tayvallich on the Argyll mainland, was voted a huge success, despite not becoming a profit-making enterprise. Jura Development Trust, which ran the project, said the island economy flourished with the extra traffic to the island; for every £1 spent on subsidy, £3 was generated within the community. However, the service needed a bail-out sum of more than £37,000 from the council in order to finish the 2010/2011 season. A statement from the trust said: ‘The inability to run the service has been caused by the unwillingness of public bodies to provide the necessary operating subsidy. Direct appeals to Argyll and Bute Council and to the Scottish Government have met with indifference.’
The Ileach writes that “In January, Sandy MacTaggart, Argyll & Bute’s Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure Services failed to attend a meeting with representatives of Isle of Jura Development Trust to discuss future financing of the ferry. The meeting had been arranged to suit Mr MacTaggart, cost over four hundred pounds and 60 man-hours for the Jura representatives to attend and the only information imparted was that Argyll & Bute Council had no spare money for the Jura Ferry. “Councillor Robin Currie, (Kintyre & the Islands) has since established that £275,000 exists in a Discretionary Transport Fund, but, as of mid-March, no directive on how that money can be accessed has been issued by Argyll & Bute Council.”
It’s needless to say that this is a huge blow for the already fragile economy of the Isle of Jura. It’s also no surprise to hear that the ferry ran with a loss, it was after all a pilot. There was however a good chance that this ferry service would have become profitable in the long run. And if we talk about losses, most of the current ferry services operated by Calmac are running with a loss as well and need money from the government, why make an exception for Jura? Islands like Lismore and Gigha do have their own (car) ferry service. You can argue that passengers for Jura can use the Islay ferry but you can’t really call that a serious alternative. Travel times to and from Jura are much longer and day trips to Jura from the mainland are not possible. For now we can only hope that a solution will be found, especially in the current economic climate.
If you would like to help support the service you can participate in a survey or make a donation on www.jurapassengerferry.com