Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde set to enter administration

The Glen Sannox in the Ferguson shipyard (Photo: TSPL)
The Glen Sannox in the Ferguson shipyard (Photo: TSPL)
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The last major shipyard on the Clyde has begun the process of going into administration.

Directors at the firm behind the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow in Renfrewshire, Ferguson Marine Engineering, are expected to serve notice of their intent to go into administration by the end of next week, reported the BBC.

The business has been involved in a long running dispute over the construction of two ferries for CalMac which has lead to £45m in Holyrood loans despite the vessels not being completed.

The Scottish government has said its priorities include completing the ships and keeping shipbuilding at the site.

However, in August, attempts by one of Scotland's richest men to attract the Scottish government to take a stake in the shipyard failed.

Around 350 people work at the Ferguson yard.

Jim McColl's Clyde Blowers Capital has owned the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow since buying it out of administration in 2014.

Mr McColl lives in Monaco but made his fortune turning around industrial businesses. He also sits on the Scottish government's council of economic advisers.

Mr McColl and Clyde Blowers believed they had legal assurances that would have allowed the Scottish government to take an equity stake in Ferguson.

A Scottish government spokesman, speaking earlier this month, confirmed the talks, but said the plan contained too many risks for the public purse. "We remain open to any workable proposals and to any commercial investment," the spokesman said.

"Our priority is to find a deliverable solution that can ... minimise uncertainty to the workforce and prevent further delays to the delivery of the vessels."

Responding to the news that Ferguson Marine Engineering are expected to serve notice of their intent to go into administration, Scottish Greens Transport Spokesperson John Finnie MSP said: “Important national resources such as the building of lifeline ferries cannot be left to the private sector. It’s time to take this yard into public ownership.

"The Scottish Government support air travel by owning property like the loss making Prestwick Airport and the various HIAL airports. There’s absolutely no reason that it shouldn’t own a vital ferry producing yard too, our island communities deserve no less.

"The Cabinet Secretary for Transport must intervene urgently, and commit to updating parliament at the earliest opportunity.”

Following the news of possible administration for the business, a Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Our priority remains to ensure the completion of the vessels under construction, secure jobs for the workforce and protect the future of shipbuilding at the site.

"We have been working to secure a future for the shipyard for two years, and it is disappointing that we have not been able to reach a commercial solution with CBC that would have prevented administrators becoming involved.

"We appreciate that this will be a concerning time for the workforce, their families and the local community, and we would like to reassure them that we are committed to maintaining the jobs on the site and building a secure future for the yard and its workforce.

"We have been working closely with trades unions representatives throughout this process, and we will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks."

Responding to the news that Ferguson Marine Engineering are expected to serve notice of their intent to go into administration, local MSP Stuart McMillan, whose father worked in Ferguson's before his passing, said: "This decision is one that nobody wanted to see. It will be distressing for all the workforce, their families and the whole community. I support the workforce and the yard and I want an outcome that keeps both working and delivering for the community.

"There is a belief in the community that the yard has a future and it's important that dialogue to find a solution continues.

"Today's action is not the end, but it ensures dialogue to find a successful outcome continues.

"I know the workforce are highly skilled and highly motivated and they can deliver world class ships. Our community is on their side and we want to continue to build ships.”