Work starts to turn Oban Bay to trust port
Volunteer mariners are investigating the viability of running Oban Bay as a trust port, after councillors and a consultation rejected a bid by CMAL to control it.
Dozens attended a public meeting held by the Oban Bay management (OBMG) and stakeholder (OBSG) groups last Thursday to discuss the results of a survey on who should control the bay.
Out of 550 people, 63 per cent voted for a trust port managed by an independent local board, 15 per cent wanted a council-run municipal harbour, and only seven per cent were in favour of a single user, CalMac’s ferry and port-owning sister company Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), expanding its harbour area, absorbing Argyll and Bute Council’s too.
On Thursday Phil Day, director of operations at the Northern Lighthouse Board, said the OBMG was now working with stakeholders to investigate a trust port. The CMAL option will be left on the table if the trust port is not viable.
Tony Bennett, chairman of the stakeholders’ group, said 24 out of 25 members preferred a trust port, with a council-run port as the next best option. Mr Bennett said 18 stakeholders had volunteered to establish the viability of a trust or a municipal port, with three working groups investigating navigation and safety, legislation, and finance.
‘The management group has endorsed that proposal,’ Mr Bennett said: ‘We are finally singing from the same hymn sheet. The difficult bit starts now.’
The group now must demonstrate sustainable governance and finance, or the other two options will be looked at.
Paul Jennings, Oban Bay harbour manager for CalMac, explained the OBMG had set up a safety management system for incidents to be reported quickly by anyone: ‘We still get many near misses that is why we need to improve the situation,’ he said.
Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon, Argyll and Bute Council’s harbour board voted against supporting CMAL’s expansion for now, and instead asked it to pause for further consultation ‘given the interest expressed locally in establishing a trust port’.