A NORTH Ayrshire Island fund could be set up to bring urgent, targeted measures to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council Leader Joe Cullinane has written to Scottish Ministers with proposals aimed at helping the islands of Arran and Cumbrae survive the current economic and social upheaval.

The proposed measures include the creation of a bespoke Island Fund, more financial support for island businesses and increasing ferry capacity safely.

While local economies across Scotland and the rest of the UK are likely to suffer as a result of the pandemic, island communities are likely to face greater financial challenges than most.

Both Arran and Cumbrae – home to about 6,500 residents - rely on ferries as the primary means of welcoming goods and visitors, and accessing many essential services.

But the reduced capacity and frequency of ferry crossings as a result of essential public health measures are having a significant and disproportionate impact on the islands’ economies and communities and will continue to do so unless urgent action is taken.

Council leader Joe Cullinane, Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building, has written to Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, and Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, to request immediate action to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and build strong, sustainable and inclusive economies.

Cllr Cullinane said: “Our islands face specific and unique challenges in restarting their economies, not least the constraints of ferry capacity.We are continuing to work closely with representatives from the island communities, including Arran Recovery Group, to develop plans.”