AN innovative idea to allow businesses to use Gallowgate Square to overcome social distancing rules has been put forward by a local councillor.

Tom Marshall, who sits on the area's licensing committee, wants to see a relaxation on the 2m to allow more flexibility for the local tourism sector and hospitality businesses.

He believes that open air spaces in Largs can be shared by local traders to beat the restrictions and help get the economy back on its feet.

He told the News: "I want to see the Scottish Government adopt as flexible a policy as possible and allow establishments to put tables outside their premises if that is going to be profitable and get some kind of turnover.

"There is no reason why Gallowgate Square can't be filled with tables from different businesses and the area fully utilised but of course it all depends on the weather."

Cllr. Marshall says he is hopeful rules may be relaxed this week to allow for more in the way of al fresco dining in the district.

In relation to social distancing, Cllr Marshall said: "The two metre ruling is too strict, it is only Spain and the UK which is operating this.

"The Scottish Government is looking to open up more outdoor areas in terms of cafes and restaurants and that could certainly help locally.

"I just can't see how the two metre ruling is sustainable in the long run.

"The UK Government has given something like £4 billion to Scottish business either in rates relief or through the furlough scheme, and in the short term, that is reasonably fine, but in the long term businesses will run out of money. That is why we need to look at doing things to try and get the economy up and running."

SNP Cllr Alan Hill said while he sees the merits of the idea, people's safety must come first.

He added said: "Reducing the distance people must keep to 1.5m or even 1m will obviously make an enormous difference to the local economy however the safety of local people is paramount.

"The Conservative Government dithered for too long over the lockdown and that has cost thousands of lives. I don't think we need any further suggestions from Conservatives, local or national about these issues. I would prefer to be guided by the science and by the Scottish Government.

"Scottish Conservatives need to stop trying to play at politics, this is not the time for that type of behaviour."

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch disagrees with the 2m social distancing restriction lifting.

He said: "The government say 2m and the scientists say 2m. I don't agree with Tom.

"Because lockdown has eased up a bit, it doesn't mean that the virus has gone away.

"Cllr Marshall regularly says that we should listen to the experts in terms of nuclear, oil rig decommissioning and the like, so what does he think the experts have got this wrong?"

Largs delicatessen and business owner John Corrigan said: "I think we have to be very careful.

"Altering social distancing could see a second spike of coronavirus infections and hat is something we want to avoid at all costs.

"Politics don't matter when people's lives are at stake. We would welcome it from a business point of view, but safety comes first just now."