HUNDREDS of people has shown their support for a popular local ferry route at a packed meeting in North Ayrshire.

Residents turned out in force at a meeting in the Ardrossan Civic Centre to demonstrate their determination to keep the Arran ferry on its current route.

Troon port owners ABP have launched a bid to take over the service, but a campaign has been launched in North Ayrshire - called Keep it A to B Ardrossan to Brodick - to save the crossing which has existed for 180 years.

North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane told the packed civic centre that the service was vital for the local economy, supporting hundreds of jobs worth around £4.5 million in wages alone.

He said: "We are here to make the case for keeping the service in Ardrossan but we are also here to make sure the people on Arran know the benefits of retaining the current service.

"It's the shortest, fastest, cheapest route. If the Arran ferry was to move to Troon, the crossing would be about 40 per cent longer and the fares would increase.

"The social and economic case for keeping it in Ardrossan is absolutely sound and clear."

The campaign has attracted cross-party support at the local authority, with Councillor Willie Gibson, Leader of the opposition group at North Ayrshire Council, also in support of the campaign, along with did MP Patricia Gibson and MSPs, Ross Greer and Jamie Greene.

Councillor Gibson told the audience the campaign was about all parts of the North Ayrshire community coming together as one.

He added: "We recognise that the campaign is not just for Ardrossan but it's also for Arran and indeed all of North Ayrshire.

"Tonight offers the chance for people to make their voices heard and show the deep level of support for the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry."