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Islanders are once again left fuming, with their plans in disarray, as CalMac’s contingency planning in the face of overhaul delays bites deep into school holiday traffic.

And island councillor Grant Fulton is urging people to channel their dismay towards two consultation events that promise to set ‘an overall strategic direction for future island transport connectivity’ – fortuitously timed for a week immediately after the current chaos.

With schools closed for the mid-term holiday weekend from today (Friday 16 February), many families had plans to travel and others had visitors heading home to stay.

Instead there have been travel cancellations, rearrangements and disappointed families from Uist to Harris and further afield.

It’s all arisen because of delays to the annual overhaul for MV Clansman, compounded by the need for MV Alfred to depart for her own overhaul.

Instead of the scheduled service, MV Alfred will now operate one return service from Lochmaddy to Uig on Saturday morning before she departs for her own overhaul.

There’s no service tomorrow to or from Tarbert, with travellers diverted to Stornoway.

Meanwhile MV Hebridean Isles is no longer able to operate from Lochmaddy to Uig, as she doesn’t fit the new pier structure in North Uist and isn’t yet tested on the new pier in Uig.

That means a single return trip between Lochboisdale and Ullapool on Sunday, when services to Tarbert will again be cancelled and travellers diverted via Stornoway.

A spokesperson for CalMac said: “I am very sorry that this disruption is coming on the February school weekend and we are aware of the impact to our customers and communities.

“Normal service with the MV Clansman is expected to resume on Monday 19th February.”

But that hasn’t been good enough for residents and businesses, who have detailed impacts on their lives including cancelled holiday bookings, the loss of family visits and confidence in the viability of island life, as one person put it ‘at an all-time low.’

Cllr Fulton said: “That’s another weekend of ferry chaos for Harris residents, folk coming home for a visit, tourists, accommodation and hospitality, so hopefully plenty members of our community can attend this consultation.”

He was referring to consultation by Transport Scotland on the forthcoming Islands Connectivity Plan, which is coming to Tarbert in just 10 days time.

The two consultation sessions – one structured discussion and one drop-in session – are being held at Tarbert Community Hall on Tuesday 27 February.

Transport Scotland has organised the sessions which, they say, will gather valuable insights and contributions for the development of the Islands Connectivity Plan.

They add: “Your input is crucial, and we invite you to be a part of shaping the future connectivity for Island and Peninsula communities.”

The structured session is from 3.30pm to 5pm and is bookable at www.eventbrite.com/e/public-engagement-on-the-islands-connectivity-plan-icp-isle-of-harris-tickets

It will be followed at 5pm by a freeform drop-in session where representatives from Transport Scotland will be available for questioning and opinion-gathering.

Revised timetables and service disruption information over the coming weekend are available at www.calmac.co.uk/service-status

Photo of MV Hebridean Isles which is no longer able to operate from Lochmaddy to Uig, as she doesn’t fit the new pier structure in North Uist