RAILINGS which suddenly appeared on a Port Glasgow slipway are to allow the River Clyde to become an alternative to the sacred River Ganges in India for the scattering of ashes.

Inverclyde Council has installed the barriers as a safety measure in response to requests from the Sikh community in Scotland for a place to carry out the tradition of dispersing the remains of loved ones in the sea or waters leading to the sea.

It is a ritual of both the Sikh and Hindu religions and is common on the famous Ganges, which runs through India.

The Newark slipway in Port Glasgow has been identified as the only suitable location for the scattering of ashes along the west coast.

Discussions have been been ongoing for some time between officials from Inverclyde Council, other local authorities and and the Sikh and Indian communities to find a solution.

Railings have now been installed at the Port slipway as a safety precaution.

A council spokesman said: "One of the rites of Sikh funerals is scattering the ashes of loved ones in flowing water such as a river or the sea. "Members of the Sikh community in the west of Scotland have been trying to find a suitable and accessible location to allow this to take place in the River Clyde. "The only suitable location identified is the slipway at Port Glasgow. "As a welcoming place and one that supports people of all faiths and none in saying their final farewell to loved ones, it is right that we support members of the wider Scottish Sikh community where we can. "The handrail is there to support this and other uses."

The installation of the railings caused some annoyance among local boat owners, including members of Newark Boat Club, who were obstructed from launching their craft.

While the safety aspect was welcomed by sailing enthusiasts, the metal structure stretched all the way to the end of the ramp and was completely submerged at high tide.

Council staff have now trimmed back the railings.

A spokesman said: "The one we originally put in place had to be altered because it caused interference with boats, particularly at high tide. "We have now fixed this. "This will allow the slipway at Coronation Park to serve as a way of getting onto the water for sailing opportunities the Clyde offers and to give members of the Sikh community a suitable and accessible location to celebrate the lives of family members and friends at the riverside."

Port councillor and depute provost, David Wilson, says he is pleased a solution has been found for both parties after taking up the concerns of boat club members with the local authority.

Mr Wilson said: "I'm very pleased that the council officers have agreed to make the area safe because the last thing we want is people tumbling into the water. "It's a good example of the council taking action in a humanitarian way and from a safety point of view."