By Councillor Tom Marshall, Scottish Conservative representative for the North Coast and Cumbraes Ward and Group Leader.
There are two aspects to the decision to review the operation of the Cumbrae National Watersports Centre.
One is the fragile economy of Cumbrae and the other is the Mission Statement of Sport Scotland.
As to the former, I have spent recent months Island Hopping on Arran, Bute, Barra, The Uists, Benbecula, Harris, Lewis and Skye and the one thing they mostly all have in common is that they are fragile economies - pretty well neglected by the Nationalists Government in Edinburgh, crying out for much needed investment to encourage job creation, population growth, retention of young people and sustainability.
The last thing that Cumbrae community needs is to lose some 15 full time and 25 part time jobs with a consequent huge impact on the economy of another fragile Island. Surely with the government talking up the Islands through their Islands Bill Legislation, it is now time for them to put their money where their mouth is and properly fund and promote this Centre. Sport Scotland and the Scottish government surely should recognise that this decision is unacceptable to the people on the island.
The second major consideration is the decision is contrary to Sport Scotland’s mission statement which is “to help the people of Scotland get the most from the sporting system“. As a Scottish Government quango it is the duty of Sport Scotland to deliver and promote sport and physical activity - not to cut back on an existing provision. Surely we should be attempting to build on the Commonwealth Games success in Glasgow in 2014.
It is clear that with some extra funding and better promotion there is no reason that the centre on Cumbrae could not be successful working in partnership with the new £12 million investment in the Inverclyde Centre in Largs.
Sport Scotland proposes to create a new Scottish National Sailing Academy in Largs. This is no substitution for continuing the provision on Cumbrae. Indeed as a local Councillor, I am unaware of any concrete plans to involve the Council in this project and would question the viability of such a scheme in view of the lack space on that site.
It is the responsibility of Sport Scotland and the Scottish Government to make a success of Cumbrae and not merely wash their hands of it. In view of the deteriorating health of the nation, is this not the opportunity to further promote a more healthy lifestyle in a beautiful Island, set close to the main population centres?
Cllr Tom Marshall