THE vessel used to operate the Renfrew ferry has been withdrawn due to safety concerns.

Transport Scotland confirmed in a letter to Renfrewshire North and West MSP Derek Mackay that following an inspection earlier this month, the vessel was found to be in a 'poor state of repair with a number of serious deficiencies noted.'

The service has been out of operation for the past week after a similar situation emerged in July when the service suddenly stopped for a number of weeks leaving passengers stranded at either side.

Mr Mackay said the private operator Clydelink has been uncontactable and no explanation has been given for the lack of service.

He wrote to the company in July seeking answers but no response has yet been received.

Mr Mackay said: “It is deeply concerning the vessel has been withdrawn due to safety concerns.

“I was always worried when SPT pulled their support for a directly run public sector ferry service that the route would suffer and be at risk, and now my warning may come to pass.

“This is the second time in a matter of months the ferry has been taken out of operation without any reasonable notice from the private operator or explanation as to why.

"There has been complete silence, and now we know why.

“This is now a matter of public safety and if the vessel is in the condition it is believed to be in then the port authorities have done the right thing in taking action.

“There is serious safety concerns over this vessel, and the private owners ability to operate the service. These issues need to be addressed urgently.”

SPT removed the direct public sector ferry service the Renfrew Rose and Yoker Swan in 2010, a withdrawal then opposed by Mr Mackay.