Work starts to turn Oban Bay to trust port

The Oban Times - - NEWS - By Sandy Neil sneil@oban­

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’.

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