FULL DISCLOSURE: Our company, Unique Property Bulletin Ltd., (formerly Unique Property plc., before going private: dates here) and our sister company Scotslion Ltd., (here) own a substantial part of Sannox Hotel on the Island of Arran. The purpose of Scotslion Ltd, is to purchase closed and/or dilapidated buildings, then renovate them and finally assist new tenants or new owners to re-open those business premises and create several jobs in the process. As of May 2023, there have been in excess of 48 buildings renovated and 203 jobs created. Meanwhile, the island of Arran has had severe ferry problems. Hence our CEO Russ McLean being involved in trying to help remedy the Scottish Government owned ferry mess. Fortunately, the current CalMac/CMAL Scottish Government owned ferry management seem to have realised the dire state of the ferry system and risk to island businesses. Refreshingly, CalMac and ScotGov have LISTENED to the islanders and HAVE placed the vital extra ferry onto the Arran route. Thankyou.
For the sake of good form, this declaration of interest in helping to remedy the Arran ferry mess is made in order to avoid any ill-informed finger wagging about vested interest. Our overriding interest is to bring closed-down buildings back to life and help create jobs.
Arran Ferry Action Group Inaugural Meeting
Brodick Hall April 2019
Proof That The Government Does Listen
A Good Result
^^ This Cost £9,000,000 To Charter ^^
That INCLUDES £4,000,000 in Fuel
+ £3,000,000 in Crew Wages
+ £1,100,000 in Drydock & Certification.
The main point? After years of campaigning due to the near-disintegration of the State owned ferry company and the bankruptcy of the newbuild ferry shipyard, Fergusons, the islands have been hit hard in their economies.
=> Our point is to campaign, to petition the government, to write, to propose solutions.
=> Why? Because it works.
=> The government have listened to the islanders. In an unprecedented event, we no have a new ferry.
The next segment is an example from one of the founder members of the Arran Ferry Action Group. This is just ONE of MANY islanders working together to persuade the Scottish Government to sort out the ferry mess. Success is measured by the fact that ScotGov have now chartered the urgently needed spare ferry. Not just to help regular passengers but also those ill and/or disabled folk who need to travel from the islands to get to their mainland hospital appointments. Plus the small matter of an island where hundreds of folk are employed by the tourism industry. If those jobs go, then a lot of families face hardship.
Fortunately things have worked out better than we could have hoped.
If you can do things like this, then please join in…
^^ Folk Are Starting To Help ^^
^^ 171 From A 4,629 Population ^^
Back when the subscribers were growing up on Arran, the received wisdom about the island’s population was 3,500 residents in the winter and 35,000 tourists at any point in the summer. Just now, in 2023 the resident population is estimated at 4,629. That is actually a reduction of 429 souls since 2001. In fact 2001 was the highest resident population since 1821~1841. Source: click here.
The ferry statistics give an idea of the magnitude of people and vehicles that the island of Arran has…
^^ CalMac Ferry Stats For Arran’s Main Routes: 2018 ^^
^^ CalMac Ferry Stats For Arran’s Main Routes: 2021 and 2022 ^^
Gently recovering From The Pandemic
Though A Significant Problem With Lack of Ferries
Source: Click Here
Inaugural Meeting To Establish
The Arran Ferry Action Group
9th April 2019 At Brodick Town Hall
This narrative is written from our perspective. By that we mean the former Argyll Group plc and in particular the Sannox Hotel renovation project on the island of Arran. In April 2019, one of our company officers, Russ McLean was onsite at Sannox, project managing the renovation of the hotel following it’s closure by the previous owners in 2015.
The purchase of Sannox Hotel by our group was made on 28th February 2018 and the renovation should have been completed by late 2019/early 2020. Both Covid and a nightmare CalMac/CMAL ferry situation put a ton of problems in our path and also prevented at least 40 jobs being brought to Arran (those now exit in Arbroath o the mainland).
Russ McLean was at the inaugural meeting of the Arran Ferry Action Group. However, following an accident aboard the MV Caledonian Isles, Russ eventually had to withdraw from directly helping due to a TBI and stroke that was diagnosed the evening of the accident.
^^ Inaugural Ferry Action Group Meeting ^^
7pm on the 9th April 2019
At Brodick Hall, Isle of Arran.
That night, 9th April 2019, with acclamtion and agreement from a full Town Hall meeting, the Isle of Arran Ferry Action Group was formed.
After 4 years of campaigning with many folk rallying to the cause of securing a ferry service fit-for-purpose…
Plus the evolution of the Arran Ferry Action Group…
To interact with the Arran Ferry Action Group, please:
After all this campaigning and letter writing, plus lobbying the government and numerous television and radio interviews…
The relief of a successful outcome and a new ferry on the Arran route has been palpable: all across the island.
Plus further afield on the mainland too…
^^ STV ~ Scottish Television Confirms ^^
^^ The Vital New Arran Ferry Is On Route ^^
This makes a huge change from earlier doom and gloom headlines. The businesses and island community can breathe a sigh of relief as the more stress-filled and disappointing headlines start to fade away…
The new ferry for Arran, MV Glen Sannox, had its first steel cut on 7th April 2016 (here). Three years later, and with the shipyard having gone bankrupt, Arran islanders realised there was a problem.
It is testament to islanders that they support each other. One of the Local Heroes, Bob Haddow famously listed the folk who had written to the Arran Banner newspaper “Letters’ Page” with views on how we might remedy the CalMac ferry failure and then visited each, inviting them to join together and form a campaign group. The Brodick Hall was booked and publicity went around the island and onto social media…
^^ Some of The Social Media Invites ^^
^^ Russ McLean Was One of Seven Folk ^^
^^ Thanking Fellow Islander For Coming To The Meeting ^^
For Arran with a population of 3,500 in the winter (and 35,000 in the summer) this was a full hall and much appreciated as many folk asaid in the following weeks they wish they had been able to come along to the inaugural Arran Ferry Action Group Meeting…
^^ Brodick Hall, Isle of Arran Ferry Meeting ^^
^^ April 2019 ^^
There was a unanimous vote in support of forming an “Arran Ferry Action Group” and each of the “Green Ink” brigade recruited by Bob Haddow set about their specific piece of the jigsaw puzzle and area of expertise (by the way, this is one of the two reasons the Unique Property Bulletin is written in green ink ~ as an homage to the eccentric in so many of us). The other reason for our green-ink websites are more to do with this tradition: click here and our interest in Sannox Hotel’s green-ink history when the building was known aby it’s former name, the “Ingledene Hotel”. Our small homage to this unexpected invention, partly at Sannox: click here and here. Source: click here.
Respect For WW2 History
& The Island of Arran Jobs
Are Why We Work To
Remedy The Island’s Ferry Problems
^^ This Excerpt Was Posted on 1st September 2019 ^^
Russ McLean’s chief engineer had brought the MV Pentalina back from the yard where the vessel was built and had a full briefing report on the specification and capabilities of these vessels.
So we advocated that CalMac Ferries (and CMAL) buy 10 of these for £10 million each, rather than squander £100 million on ONE nightmare ship build in the form of MV Glen Sannox. Then from the TEN catamaran ferry class of vessel, ALL the Islands would have a decent ferry service. THREE catamarans deployed to the island of Arran + 3 for the islands of Islay & Jura + 3 catamarans for Mull!
Little did we know that after 3 years of the promised newbuild ferry, MV Glen Sannox, it would take another 3 years of campaigning?
=> But in the end, exactly 6 years after the MV Glen Sannox (which still hasn’t sailed an inch or turned a propeller), the Scottish Government finally listened to the Arran islanders.
Fair play, after a LOT of Arran islanders worked together campaigning to bring about a functional ferry service that was fit for purpose, the Transport Minister did what we asked of them as the next series of screenshots prove…
^^ The Media Is Awash With These Articles ^^
Both on the island and in the media we pressed the case relentlessly. For folk not familiar, in 2019 and 2020, this is one of the most suitable solutions as proposed by green-ink-fingers McLean…
^^ Community Social Media Is Strong On ^^
^^ The Island of Arran ^^
Comparisons were made and an inexorable case presented to bring anew tonnage onto the route. This had never happened before and was definitely a tough journey…
^^ One £100,000,000 Ship Mothballed ^^
In A Government Mess
At least charter a new design of ship that can be built for £10 Million…
As of 12th May 2023, the large catamaran ferry, MV Alfred is on the Isle of Arran ferry as the second ship and will bring some economic certainty back to the island…
^^ The Scottish Government Charter ^^
A New Ferry To Help The Island of Arran
It is important to note that the charter rate may seem high, but this INCLUDES the crew costs + insurance + EXPENSIVE FUEL for the period of the charter.
Never give up!
Post Script: During the public meeting in April 2019 at Brodick Hall, one of the most eloquent speakers from the islanders in the audience was a naval architect named Sam Bourne…
^^ Sam Bourne ^^
^^ Just Attended As An Audience Member ^^
Looks like Sam has the headache starting.
Don’t stick your paw in the air at a town hall meeting 🙂
But he and the Arran Ferry Action Group (that Sam now chairs) has had a huge amount of support from the island community. This has worked wonders.
Russ had spotted Sam as a candidate for helping move things forward after the two spoke for while. As he was sitting down, Russ remarked to one of the new Arran Ferry Action Group committee members that one of us needed to go and press-gang Sam into joining the endeavour.
^^ Russ Was Kidding That Someone ^^
^^ Should Press Gang Sam Into Joining ^^
Fortunately Sam Bourne agreed and Sam now chairs the whole effort. Humour such as Sam’s evidence sessions to ScotGov Holyrood being the “Bourne Ultimatum” aside, He has done a sterling job, as have all the hundreds of people who have worked hard to help bring the island economy back to an even keel.
Arran Ferry Action Group Committee
With goodwill and hard work from the whole island of Arran, plus the brilliant friends on Orkney, who have lent us one of their ferries, we are now looking at a change in government policy that is likely to help ALL of the islands that are currently suffering from the State owned ferry company difficulties.
=> This is NOT a criticism of the CalMac crew, all of whom deserve medals for coming to their work during the Covid pandemic, placing themselves in harm’s way just to keep the islanders and visitors fed.
It is senior management in charge of CalMac who shoulder the main responsibilities of running a safe and reliable ferry service. Though in this instance credit where it is due…
=> The bosses of the State ferry company should be highly commended and thanked for chartering the MV Alfred and taking such a bold and constructive step.
^^ Video of The 2019 Public Meeting ^^
The 2023 Committee Archived: Here