CAMPAIGNERS in a fragile Highland community have claimed a major victory after a u-turn by councillors on a threatened 13% increase on a lifeline Lochaber crossing.
Highland Council has climbed down on the original plans for fare rises on the Corran Ferry and voted through a 2% increase for one year only.
This is despite transport officials originally pushing for a 13% rise over three years.
The Corran Ferry is the busiest service in Scotland, and the only one run by Highland Council. Currently, the council charges nearly £8 for a single 500-metre crossing. It connects many far-flung, fragile rural and island communities on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and beyond who would otherwise have to resort to an additional 45 mile drive.
Campaign convenor, local community councillor Tony Boyd, said: “Highland Council are at last listening to local people and realise that fragile communities with significant areas of rural deprivation cannot continue to suck up the incessant increases being imposed on a service which is our main connection to the outside world.
“Both council and government are duty-bound to support the infrastructure of outlying areas, and we see this as an opportunity now for Highland and the Scottish Government to work with these local communities and take a proactive role in creating a secure, imaginative and sustainable future for the crossing.
“We applaud our local councillors for coming together to defend their own communities, and we look forward to a constructive dialogue with Highland Council and the Scottish Government, as has been promised.”
The Free Corran Crossing campaign has been fighting for the Loch Linnhe lifeline crossing to be declared a part of the national trunk route system, a move which would render the service free of charge.
The service connects the communities of Ardnamurchan, Morvern and the islands of Mull and Iona to the rest of the mainland.
There has been four price hikes over the past three years, all massively above inflation. The increases last year of 25-40% led to the formation of the campaign.