YOUR front-page lead article (“Union call for ferries yard to stay in public ownership”, The Herald, May 11) prompted thoughts on potential future orders that would be suitable for Ferguson Marine Engineering. There are two local authority-run strategic ferry services on the west coast of Scotland: Argyll and Bute Council’s Cuan Ferry, and Highland Council’s Corran Ferry. The latter has featured in recent weeks in The Herald.

The Cuan Ferry links the island of Luing with the island of Seil and carries vehicles and passengers on a short crossing. The Corran Ferry also carries vehicles and passengers over the Corran Narrows crossing, a very busy route that is currently affected by the normal and standby vessels being out of service for repairs.

The MV Belnahua on the Cuan crossing is a side-loading vessel, built in Campbeltown in 1972.

The Corran crossing normally uses the MV Corran, built in Hull in 2000, with the smaller MV Maid of Glencoul built in 1975 as the standby vessel; both have side-loading ramps.

Whilst not directly the responsibility of the Scottish Government, both of these ferries provide lifeline services and the vessels concerned are now of an age where their continued operation is becoming challenging.

My point is that Fergusons in a previous life had a good reputation for designing and constructing smaller vehicle and passenger ferries. Indeed Calmac continues to operate a number of Ferguson-built smaller vessels. The Ferguson yard is a fairly compact site, which has proven to be congested when constructing MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802. It is much better suited for the construction of complete smaller vessels and there is a looming demand in Scottish waters for just this type of vessel. Not just the aforementioned local authority vessels, Calmac vessels, but the ferries operated by Orkney Islands Council, and Shetland Islands Council.

The present Minister for Transport at Holyrood, Kevin Stewart, should be working with his Cabinet colleague Neil Gray and the First Minister to facilitate the replacement of the Scottish local authority-operated vessels. It is not acceptable to state that the respective local authorities are responsible for funding vessel replacement; with the potential costs assistance from the Scottish Government is required. With collaborative working it should be possible for a prioritised phased replacement programme to be agreed with suitable grant funding provided to the respective councils.

I am not suggesting that such a replacement programme should be allocated to one shipyard, competition is essential, but Ferguson Marine is ideally placed, if given the support and encouragement, to undertake some of this type of work. The type of strategy proposed must incorporate the special design requirements of some of the routes that are covered by these smaller vessels. The strategy should also identify routes where a standby vessel could be constructed to provide cover for a service operated by a neighbouring local authority, thus reducing whole-life costs across the council-run ferry sector.

Kevin A McCallum, Glasgow.

We need to build better roads

MAX Cruickshank's letter (May 11) castigating Glasgow City Council for inadequate road repairs by dumping Tarmac into potholes identifies something which occurs after the fact when the initial problem should be identified before potholes even appear.

In many areas of human endeavour where a continuous good-quality result is the aim, imperfections are identified, reasons for their occurrence are sought and steps are taken to minimise future variations in quality. This does not appear to take place during road construction. The fact that potholes appear in roads seems to indicate that the road surface was not of an even standard in the first place and the holes have occurred in those areas of reduced quality. I have noticed that even in newly-constructed surfaces, there are areas where the smoothness seems compromised. I suspect it is these areas where problems will occur in future.

Rather therefore in spending time and money “repairing” potholes with its concomitant lane closures, diversions and other delays, may I suggest that the road be built to a better standard in the first place? Whether this means that the quality of the materials used or the quality of the construction method be improved, I don’t know, but may I suggest that the reasons for these imperfections be investigated with a view to ending them?

Colin Gunn, Glasgow.

Read more: Lamentable standard in road repairs are a waste of public funds

Torness was a bargain

VICKY Allan's column ("What a visit to Torness taught me about the nuclear power debate", The Herald, May 10) contains a claim from the Scottish Office that "in terms of cost, the construction of the plant was a mistake". In fact, according to internet data, the construction cost of the plant was £224 million and it has already exceeded its design life by 40% – surely the bargain of the century for the Scottish economy, especially as the output does not depend on the sun or the wind.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas.

Best to avoid confrontation

REGARDING Thelma Edwards' letter (May 10), I would suggest that confronting the alleged litter culprit is not to be recommended. Such incidents can quickly deteriorate, often concluding in physical violence.

Albeit a good citizen act is commendable, restrict action to noting the vehicle registration and contacting the police. The owner can easily be traced. A visit by the police would establish who threw what. This would have a more telling effect and consequences than the observations of a well-intended passerby.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

Bartering with bottles

AS a baby boomer I recall a previous, simpler, incarnation of the Deposit Return Scheme.

Taking your empty lemonade bottles back to the grocer or local cafe provided 2d back on each. Good money to us kids when a Mars bar cost 4d.

Alternatively the BB cinema in Coatbridge would accept lemonade bottles and jam jars in lieu of cash for access to weekly matinees where you could watch the rats overtaking Jesse James across the screen.

Scams were inevitable, of course.

Of interest to us primary school kids was the weekly cooncil "salvage" van that visited the housing schemes to collect, primarily, waste paper.

They had a nice earner where they would offer only 1d for your lemonade bottles, presumably trading them on for 100% more, plus they would sell us kids the previous week's Beano and Dandy for 1d or a bottle, and harvest the full 2d per bottle.

Nice uncomplicated trading that did the job for the environment and supported recycling.

DB Watson, Cumbernauld.