THE Alba Party have called on the Scottish Government to directly award new CalMac ferry orders to Ferguson’s shipyard in Port Glasgow to ensure “a pipeline of work to keep the yard alive”.

It comes after it was reported today by The Scotsman that changes to the safety design of two of the yard's over-budget and delayed ferries have been signed off by the regulator in a significant step forward. 

The Glen Sannox – and its sister vessel the Glen Rosa – have been beset by multi-year delays and cost overruns which have put the final price at £360 million, compared with the initial £97 million price tag when the contract was signed.

Alba have previously called for the creation of a new Ferries Scotland body which would see the amalgamation of CalMac, CMAL, and the nationalised Inverclyde shipyard, resulting in an integrated body responsible for the procurement, design, construction, and operation of Scotland’s ferry fleet.

READ MORE: Ferguson Marine boss apologises for Glen Rosa further delay until 2025

The National: Has Chris McEleny jumped to conclusions following last weekend’s independence convention?

Former Inverclyde councillor and now Alba Party general secretary Chris McEleny (above) said that the direct award of contracts was vital to “ensure a pipeline of work exists to keep the yard alive after the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa are delivered”. He also claimed it could see 1000 new jobs created on the lower Clyde.

But the legality of such a move was addressed by Neil Gray during a statement to Holyrood where announced that the `Scottish Government can't go ahead with current investment plans to the yard. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy said that direct awards of contracts to Ferguson’s would breach UK procurement law.

McEleny added: “The sight of a CalMac ferry once filled an islander's heart and the people of Inverclyde with pride. The current chaos on the ferry network is a disgrace. All of the agencies responsible should hang their heads in shame. Alba is putting the needs of island communities, and protecting jobs, front and centre.

“We have recently called on the Scottish Government to bring Inverclyde’s Inchgreen Drydock into public ownership to aid the industrial revival of the Lower Clyde.

“But it is important for the Scottish Government to act now to ensure Ferguson’s stays alive after the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa are at sea and this requires immediate clarity on the issue of direct awards of Scottish taxpayer owned ferries to Scotland’s nationally owned Shipyard in Port Glasgow.

“Direct award would put in place a steady pipeline of work which would be the foundation of the yard’s survival in the short term to allow a thriving future. It’s time for the Scottish Government to announce the direct award of Calmac ferry orders to Ferguson’s Shipyard in Inverclyde.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.