Followers of the Scottish Government's politically useful "shovel-ready" projects list might have noticed that one of these, the £2 million for pier upgrading for the Gourock-Dunoon ferry, is opposed by local MSP and beleaguered Scottish Government minister, Mike Russell.

Even if he doesn't exactly "rail against" them, as the campaigning Cowal Courier has it, he is quoted as being "not a great fan of the [pier] pontoons idea".

As Russell is painfully aware, this is a subject on which local passions run high. Voters in the Cowal peninsula hate the pontoons proposal as it would entrench a passenger-only service they see as unfit for purpose (because the lighter craft are often cancelled). As route-user and Strathclyde University professor Neil Mackay has it, a reliable service is essential to local commuters, who prefer the heavier and less weather-dependent car ferry service.

Loading article content

Russell's equivocation stems from the SNP Government's consistent hints that the car ferry could be reinstated, which is not what Transport Scotland officials say. All of which begs the question: should this project be removed from the list, and how many of the other "shovel-ready" projects on the list are, in fact, completely unready, for reasons of local politics?

The word-of-mouth success of CeeD, the nitty-grittiest of Scottish B2B forums, in which manufacturers and engineers large and small share their problems and successes for the greater benefit of Scottish manufacturing, continues apace.

Flourishing below the radar of publicity, CeeD provides a welcome antidote to the gloom often reported as though closures and retrenchment were the only story in the Scottish economy.

Expect big strides forward to be announced at the group's annual lunch on Tuesday in Cumbernauld, to be addressed by the biggest fish in Scottish business, Jim McColl, as well as Kenny McGee of Component Sense, Robin MacGeachy of Peak Scientific Instruments and Rodney Ayre of Mitsubishi Electric Air Conditioning Systems.