THERE were long queues to get on the CalMac ferry during last Friday's sweltering sunshine as foot passenger tickets sales to be temporarily suspended.

Before 11am, the traffic queue to get on to the Cumbrae ferry stretched as far back as Charles Street, then at midday the ferry firm announced that they were pausing ticket sales to foot passengers due to insufficient marshalling area on pier not permitting one metre social distancing.

Upset Millport residents slammed the decision, saying it had left islanders stranded while Cumbrae Community Council are now demanding a long-term solution.

CalMac have been operating a reduced timetable with limited capacity.

READ MORE: Calmac suspends day trips to popular island after influx of tourists

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall, who sits on the ferry users group, said: "The only solution as far as I can see it to have an online booking service. It is ridiculous in this day and age that CalMac don't have one for the Cumbrae route.

"The only alternative would be to provide more boats like Western Ferries do on the Gourock to Dunoon service. They can run up to four at a time."

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch, who took this photo of the queue stretching up to Charles Street and Broomfield Place, said: "Usually I am asking people to come to Largs and Millport in their droves, but these are not normal circumstances and Covid-19 has not gone away.

"You have got to worry about the situation when you are seeing such big numbers heading across in terms of the virus, social distancing and adhering to the guidance."

Community council chair Graham Wallace said: "The situation in respect of the ferry to Cumbrae, where residents cannot get home - maybe for several hours - is clearly totally unacceptable.

"We wrote to, and discussed, this amongst many others related issues with the council and elected representatives at all levels and at length on many occasions over recent months. The same representations were made to the Cumbrae Ferry Users Group and yet no action has been taken.

"In fact the increase of tourism, and particularly day trippers, to the island was actively encouraged and promoted whilst no support was apparent for a priority or pre-booking system for residents.

"It was more than clear what would happen. An urgent response from NAC, our elected members and CalMac is required."