New fund to boost access to Scottish ferries

Western Isles ferry Ferry operators already need to meet strict rules on disabled access

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A £500,000 fund has been set up by the Scottish government in an effort to improve disabled access on ferries and at harbours.

The Ferries Accessibility Fund will be open to bids from the public and private sector.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said Scotland's ferry services "should be open and accessible to everyone".

Applications will be taken up until the end of November with successful bids announced in January next year.

Further calls for applications will be made during 2015.

Mr Brown said ferry operators already have strict standards to meet on accessibility.

He added: "The funding could help a wide range of proposals, from adapting existing ships and harbours to make it easier and safer for people with reduced mobility to embark and disembark, to giving staff training in disability awareness and customer service.

"By making awards on a match-funding basis, it means up to £1m could be spent on accessibility improvements across the ferry network."

Anne Maclean, convenor of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, has welcomed the setting up of the fund.

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