FERRY fares on the Largs to Cumbrae route have been frozen for six months – but a local councillor is calling on the government to go further.

Ticket prices will be held at current levels from April until the end of September in a move made to help island businesses and residents cope with the cost of living crisis.

CalMac chief executive Robbie Drummond has welcomed the decision, which he believes is good news for island communities.

He said: "Now that we have the decision on the 2023 fares from the transport minister, we will be able to complete the work required on our systems to enable us to open bookings.

"As previously announced, we will open bookings as soon as possible and certainly before the end of January. The opening date for bookings will be advertised very shortly."

However, Conservative councillor Todd Ferguson, who lives on Cumbrae, has put forward an ambitious proposal to give residents on Cumbrae free travel during the freeze.

He explained: “Any decision made that seeks to try and attract tourists to our islands is to be welcomed.

“However, I would urge the Scottish Government to go one better, and in addition to freezing fares for tourists, they also provide our islanders with six months of free travel.

“That would be a very small amount of compensation to pay on behalf of islanders who have had to endure years of disruption and chaos to their lives because of a service that is not fit for purpose.

“If the transport minister wants to make islands a destination for living, working, and visiting then she needs to sort out the issues around vessel replacement, fleet resilience and route reliability.

“Anything else just smacks of lip service to those of us who have to deal with the fallout of cancellations on a daily basis.”

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth hopes the freeze will encourage tourists to visit places like Cumbrae this summer.

She said: "We are acutely aware of the particular challenges faced by our island communities, where the cost-of-living impacts are arguably more challenging than in any other part of the country.

"Ministers are also mindful of the disruption on the ferry network in recent times - particularly in relation to the Clyde and Hebrides network.

"This fares freeze is the right thing for our island communities and I hope it will go some way to encouraging tourism this summer as island businesses continue to recover from the pandemic."