Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has written to Transport Scotland and Caledonian MacBrayne calling for the introduction of ‘booking-windows’ for the summer ferries to and from the islands.

Mr MacNeil is suggesting a staggered release of vehicle bookings which will improve access to ferries for all, including islands residents who have to travel at short notice.

Mr MacNeil said: “We have just come out of a winter period where many islanders have felt locked due to ferry breakdowns and inclement weather.

“As a result, we want to make sure that we plan now to avoid another difficult summer. We have seen disruption due to bad weather; we don’t want further difficulties due to the sheer volume of people.

“I am suggesting this year that, regardless of where people come from, there be a staggered release of space on car decks. 70% in the beginning, then 20% the month before and the last 10% in the week before the sailing. This gives different types of travellers, regardless of where people live, the ability to make these bookings. It gives businesses and people who need to travel at short notice or attend hospital, the hope of being able to travel.

“I would also suggest to Councillors and Community Councils to write to Calmac and the Transport Minister to ensure their voices are heard and that the strength of feeling is understood.

“We cannot have a situation where the winter weather is blocking island travel and the success of summer island tourism is also blocking island travel. Given the rising demand over the last couple of years, the only way to achieve this is to introduce ‘booking-windows’.”