The operators of the paddle steamer Waverley have asked Argyll and Bute Council for a three-year cash injection to help the historic vessel keep sailing towards her 70th birthday.
Waverley Excursions Ltd is hoping the council will contribute £45,000 from its general fund reserves to help with the paddler’s running costs until 2015-16.
A report to be considered by a full council meeting this Thursday recommends that the request be approved and the cash be paid out in three stages - £20,000 in 2013-14, £15,000 in 2014-15 and £10,000 in 2015-16.
The report states: “The operators consider that a three year package with a number of partners will allow them to focus on growing the business with the aim of developing a more sustainable business.
“Whilst such a package will greatly assist with their objective, it should be noted that due to the nature of their business and the high costs of maintaining and operating the Waverley, the operators consider that grant funding will always be required and therefore there are no guarantees that there will not be future requests for funding beyond the three year grant period.
“Nonetheless, members are requested to consider the proposal with consideration to the economic and social benefits to our communities and the cultural capital associated with the Waverley.”
The report also notes that Argyll and Bute Council already contributes in kind to the running costs of the Waverley, whose 2013 cruising season ended on October 20, by waiving berthing dues at piers owned by the authority in Rothesay, Dunoon, Tighnabruaich, Helensburgh, Kilcreggan, Campbeltown and Oban - a contribution estimated to be worth around £10,000 per annum.
Waverley Excursions Ltd has made similar appeals to the local authorities in Inverclyde, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire, while Glasgow City Council has agreed to provide £50,000, subject to other councils agreeing to the requests.