Villagers in ferry buyout attempt
Residents of a Highland village hope to become the first Scottish community to buy their own ferry service.
People from Glenelg agreed to formulate a business plan and seek outside financial assistance with the deal. The Glenelg vessel operates on the narrow route between the mainland and Skye, which has been used as a ferry crossing since Viking times. Skipper Roddy Macleod has offered the community first refusal on the six-car ferry.
At a public meeting in Glenelg recently, residents said they would ask for help in their bid from the local enterprise company and other public agencies. The privately-operated ferry, which makes the five minute crossing to Kylerhea on Skye, has served people for the past 14 years.
The Glenachulish is now back in service after the winter and is expected to carry about 14,000 vehicles during the summer and autumn. The ferry runs as often as it is required between March and October. Mr Macleod said he was giving local people first opportunity to buy the ferry but added that he would put it on the open market if that does not happen.
He said: ‘It could be sold to somebody who might be a speculator of some description and just decide that ‘this just isn’t good enough, I’ve got a contract for the boat to run stores to somewhere else’ and take it off the service.
‘Whereas if they buy it themselves, they can do what they want with it. They can stop running the ferry if they want but the destiny is in their own hands.’
Eddie Stiven, of the community council, said: ‘It’s a very important route and passage for us. It’s been here for a very long time and is the oldest crossing to Skye and hopefully it’s a crossing that will continue for us in the future.’
Earlier this year Highland councillor Charlie King warned that the service, and the route between Mallaig and Armadale, could be threatened by plans to remove tolls from the Skye Bridge.
It is estimated that the two services bring in £5m to the local economy.