Rothesay harbour row heads for the courts

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A ROW over berthing rights at Rothesay harbour looks to be heading for the Court of Session amid claims that Argyll and Bute Council has “completely ignored” attempts to reach an agreement.

Calum McMillan, the owner of local firm Argyll Workboats, has instructed Sir Adrian Shinwell, of Glasgow law firm Kerr Barrie, to raise a petition seeking a judicial review of the council’s actions in refusing to allow Mr McMillan’s boat, Seahorse II, to return to the harbour after an absence of more than five years.

Mr McMillan was asked to temporarily remove Seahorse II from Rothesay in 2006-07 to allow work to be carried out on the revised berthing arrangements for Caledonian MacBrayne’s two Wemyss Bay ferries.

But though the works have long since been completed, the council has refused to allow Seahorse II to return to her original berth at the east end of the main pier, citing safety concerns raised by the vessel’s length, height and draught.

Sir Adrian told The Buteman: “I have enjoyed, if that is the right word, seven months of utterly fruitless correspondence with Argyll and Bute Council.

“I have offered negotiation, mediation and arbitration as positive routes towards a resolution but, regrettably, my offer was not so much rejected as completely ignored.”

Sandy McTaggart, the council’s executive director of development and infrastructure services, said a Notice for Mariners issued in 2009, imposing a limit on the size and draught of vessels allowed to berth in the harbour, had been repeatedly reviewed since then and had most recently been endorsed by the authority’s Bute and Cowal area committee, in its capacity as the Rothesay harbour board, in April 2012.

Mr McTaggart said the council’s offer of an alternative berth for Seahorse II remained open.