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Ferry crisis sparks publisher to demand £100k government boost

An independent publisher is demanding a six-figure government investment in the areas it serves after they were hit by a ferry crisis.

Wyvex Media is backing the call from businesses on the island of Tiree for £100,000 of support from the Scottish Government, which say they have lost because of the ongoing ferry crisis that is crippling footfall to the Western Isles.

Wyvex weekly the Oban Times, which covers the affected areas along the west coast of Scotland, has now launched an ‘Invest in the West’ drive on this week’s front page, pictured.

The campaign’s launch comes just a week after the Times also reported on its front page how the economy on the Isle of Mull has had to harbour a seven-figure dip, which has again been attributed to the lack of a reliable ferry.

Oban west

The campaign will be expanded across all of Wyvex’s portfolio, which includes the Arran Banner and Campbeltown Courier, in the weeks ahead.

Group editor Susan Windram and head of online content Brian Hossack told HTFP that it was the “right time to step forward with a call to action”.

Susan said: “The ferry crisis that seems to feature almost every week now on our front page has brought some of our most outlying and rural communities to their knees.

“It has reached a point where people aren’t travelling to some of the scenic areas we serve such as Mull and Tiree because they don’t know if there will be a reliable ferry service to get them. Businesses that have thrived for 100 years or more are struggling to stay afloat as visitor numbers slump.

“This has now become a much wider problem than people finding a reliable way to get on and off our islands. This is a crisis that will result in livelihoods being ruined, employment opportunities drying up and families being forced to move elsewhere to make ends meet.

“Urgent action is needed now. We can’t allow the damage that will be done by depopulation, we can’t allow the fabric of our communities to be torn apart and we can’t allow the people who make our part of Scotland so special to be driven away.”

Brian, who recently joined the company after previously serving as editor of the Greenock Telegraph, added: “The Oban Times is calling on the Scottish Government to finally open its eyes and take cognisance of the very real threat to the quality of life that is unfolding right now across the west coast and Highlands.

“Our new Invest in the West campaign, which will run across our trusted print and online platforms, is going to give a voice to the people at the sharp end of this plight.

“We will be backing the fight for proper compensation and support for our communities, highlighting the impact this crisis is having on people’s lives, holding those in power to account and asking what can be done amid what is already a crippling cost of living crisis.

“People have had enough and the time has now come for everyone to stand together and fight for a fairer deal.”