Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is extremely concerned that islanders will not be able to use the lifeline services on the ferry route between Stornoway and Ullapool in the coming weeks.

The MSP said, “I have been contacted by constituents who have recently tried to book travel on the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry, the mv Loch Seaforth and been both denied vehicular travel and on one occasion astonishingly foot  passenger travel.

"We are now reaping the rewards of decision by CMAL and the Scottish Government to only put one ferry on this lifeline route against many stakeholders objections at the time.”

Following considerable delays the German-built mv Loch Seaforth’s first sailing was on the 10.02.2015 and replaced the mv Isle of Lewis and the freight ferry mv Clipper Ranger.

Mrs Grant  continued, “Against all public opinion the Loch Seaforth replaced two vessels and only cut the passage time by 15 minutes, this decision is now coming back to haunt them as the route is now as predicted becoming overloaded and space for essential Islander travel not being available.

"This all at a time which is well before the school holidays begin. The fact that a foot passenger was denied travel is extremely concerning.

"I have also been informed that the seating capacity stated for passenger travel incredibly includes the external seating which if true is a complete nonsense and would answer why recently people have taken to the floor to sit rather than sitting outside on wet cold decks."

Mrs Grant concluded: "I have arranged a meeting with the Chief executive of Calmac and will be raising these and other issues with him in the strongest terms."