THE green light has been given for a plan to connect communities and improve public transport across North Ayrshire after councillors agreed to splash some cash.

North Ayrshire Council put through a £100,000 scheme in the budget for a community transport pilot to help people who are cut off or suffer from isolation.

Depute council leader Shaun Macaulay said: “When we came into administration, one of our priorities was about listening to communities and strengthening our relationship with them and time and time again they have told us transport is an issue for them.

“We saw last year in the Garnock Valley where a bus service was going to be removed by Stagecoach and the leader of the council wrote to the Stagecoach chief executive to ask them to keep the bus route, which they did.

“But one of the things which came out from this was that the transport system is not fit for purpose in North Ayrshire. We wanted to do something about it.

“We recognise it’s not a massive sum of money but we want to tell the community we have listened to what they said and we have acted by having a pilot scheme.

“We are asking people in the community what they think would work for them in their area. We have £100,000 and I would rather the community came up with ideas.

“The dream would be a fairly integrated and linked-up transport system but we don’t have the capital funding right now, but we are not sitting on our hands saying we can’t do anything about it."

Cllr Macaulay added: “It might be community transport whereby a minibus is available at certain times on certain days to take people around. There is an argument for many places to have transport, and my view is that rural places suffer most. We want a transport system which works for the people.

“I don’t want to put a time frame on it but we are pushing for it to start quite soon because we want to find out we are on the right track in terms of answering the questions communities posed to us.

“Public transport is important because we need people to use their cars less and meet climate change targets and to do that, people must still move around. So, we need public transport.”