Pon­toons open

OBAN town cen­tre’s new tran­sit berthing pon­toons are of­fi­cially in use af­ter be­ing opened ahead of sched­ule.

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

ONLY a few hours af­ter the keys for the Es­planade pontoon were handed over to Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil by the con­trac­tors, the much-an­tic­i­pated ma­rina was open for business.

Coun­cil­lor Elaine Robert­son, the coun­cil’s area chair­woman, praised of­fi­cers for the swift­ness in which the pon­toons were opened.

Mrs Robert­son said: ‘This is not the of­fi­cial open­ing. That will hap­pen at the end of Au­gust. This was sim­ply to get the mes­sage out that the pon­toons are open and ready to be used.’

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil be­lieve that Oban’s sta­tus as a ‘must visit’ lo­ca­tion for sailors has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly with the con­struc- tion of the £2.5 mil­lion tran­sit berthing fa­cil­ity.

A spokesman said: ‘The project is de­signed to ben­e­fit the lo­cal and wider econ­omy and is al­ready bring­ing ves­sels and visi­tors to the town.

‘The Ocean Youth Trust was among the first pontoon cus­tomers and Coun­cil­lor Elaine Robert­son was on hand to wel­come its char­ter ves­sel to the state-of-the art fa­cil­ity.’

The berths are be­ing mar­keted un­der the name North Pier Pon­toons and will, Mrs Robert­son ex­plained, be man­aged by the pier staff there.

A code will be given to sailors who have paid the berthing fees of £12 per day (between 11am and 4pm) and for up to three nights at £3 per me­tre, in­clud­ing vat.

Coun­cil­lor Aileen Morton, leader of Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil, said: ‘This is a land­mark day for Oban and for the whole West Coast tourism in­dus­try. The sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment in th­ese first class fa­cil­i­ties will at­tract new peo­ple and busi­nesses and bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the town and the sur­round­ing area for years to come.

‘I am so pleased to say that we are now able to wel­come kayak­ers, yachters, cruise ships and tour op­er­a­tors.

‘The fin­ger-berth pon­toons and con­crete float­ing break­wa­ter are now ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent flex­i­ble short-stay ca­pac­ity and make it eas­ier for ma­rine visi­tors to come to Oban.

‘As well as coun­cil fund­ing, this project ben­e­fited from fi­nan­cial sup­port from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise. Our thanks go to all who helped make it pos­si­ble. This is all about in­vest­ing for pros­per­ity.’

Coun­cil­lor Robert­son added: ‘This project will com­ple­ment Oban’s ex­ist­ing ma­rine fa­cil­i­ties and will bring new cus­tomers for other lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties, in­dus­tries and re­tail­ers.

‘It had been ex­pected that the pon­toons would open later in the sum­mer, but thanks to the hard work of con­trac­tors GSS of Ros­neath, North West Ma­rine of Mull and Oban, D&K Laf­ferty of Oban, and Gaelforce, the fa­cil­ity was open for business in July.

‘This has been an out­stand­ing demon­stra­tion of the qual­ity of our home-based con­trac­tors in Ar­gyll.

‘This is a great step for­ward for the long-term eco­nomic pros­per­ity of Oban.’

The fa­cil­ity, com­pris­ing 15 fin­ger berths, three ham­mer­heads and 12 con­crete break­wa­ters, has been built ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal plans. This sea­son the fa­cil­ity will be op­er­ated by Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil in part­ner­ship with BID4Oban.

Work on the as­so­ci­ated mar­itime vis­i­tor fa­cil­ity, cost­ing £1.6 mil­lion, is sched­uled to be com­pleted later this year. This fa­cil­ity will pro­vide a har­bour master’s of­fice, toi­lets, show­ers, lock­ers and a chang­ing area.

Con­cerns had pre­vi­ously been raised through so­cial me­dia on the ‘free use’ of the pon­toons. A coun­cil spokesman said the berthing of a num­ber of ves­sels over the past three weeks was ‘not au­tho­rised’ by the lo­cal author­ity.

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