SWEEPING changes could be made to the way ferries locally are run after a report commissioned by the Scottish Government found a confusing structure of roles and responsibilities.

At present, boats run by CalMac use harbours, ports and vessels owned by CMAL, which are both overseen by Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has confirmed that she plans to consult on changes to ferry services after the Project Neptune report.

She said: “Things have got to improve for our island communities. We need a better culture of collaborative working.”

The review follows years of disruption due to breakdowns across the ageing ferry fleet, with one vessel in need of repair having a knock-on effect on several routes.

Cumbrae has been at the sharp end of the issues, with numerous technical faults for the MV Loch Shira in recent years, resulting in smaller ferries being drafted in to try and cope.

The report outlined several key issues for the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Service, most notably too many stakeholders involved in the process leading to confusion.

Created by business advisors Ernst and Young, it highlighted that holding failures to account was difficult with different bodies taking charge of different elements of the network.

It also found that different opinions on how the ferries should be run were harming the overall service for passengers.

Several key suggestions were made that the authors believed would improve the service for everyone involved.

These include the assimilation of Transport Scotland and CMAL, the joining of CMAL and David MacBrayne Ltd or the integration of CMAL and CalMac.

It also suggested that CMAL could be sold to the private sector, with vessel ownership privatised and operations would be tendered for by external bidders.

Another option outlined was to give local authorities the power to procure and manage services for their area, meaning council’s would be able to decide how best to run local routes.

Island communities including Cumbrae are now set to be consulted on the next steps following the report’s findings.