The islands of Arran and Cumbrae are set for more direct representation as the first ever Senior Officer has been appointed to be responsible for them.

Sarah Baird will become the first designated Senior Officer for the Islands.

She will work closely in partnership with island communities, businesses and wider stakeholders to develop and facilitate the delivery of 10-year island plans to support the recovery and renewal of Arran and Cumbrae.

It will be her job to explore ways of delivering an inclusive and green economic recovery post-COVID-19, while making sure islanders priorities are reflected in national and local policy.

Her appointment is part of a pilot project by North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to look at new ways of supporting Arran and Cumbrae.

Councillor Alex Gallagher, Cabinet Member for Post COVID-Renewal said: “We have ambitious plans for our island communities of Arran and Cumbrae.

“A major part of my role is to work with the people on our islands, to listen to their needs and to ensure they are listened to locally and nationally.

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Sarah.

“She is going to be a huge asset to myself, the council and, of course, our islands which have unique strengths and challenges.

“The Islands Recovery and Renewal pilot project will help realise the potential of both of our islands by working with communities and wider partners to develop ambitious 10-year Island plans to support an inclusive and green economic recovery through Community Wealth Building.”

Sarah told the Herald: “I am delighted to be appointed as the first dedicated Islands Officer for Arran and Cumbrae and will ensure the unique challenges and opportunities our islanders face are reflected in local and national policy.

“I am very much look forward to working with the island communities, businesses and wider stakeholders to maximise the opportunities that the Islands Recovery and Renewal pilot presents in order to realise our islands’ ambitions.”

The £250,000 pilot is set to be co-funded by the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and North Ayrshire Council.