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Dedicated Officer set to spearhead islands recovery

Posted on 9 Feb 2021

THE development of ambitious10-year plans to realise the potential of North Ayrshire’s islands has taken a major step forward with the confirmation of a key appointment.

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 is part of an Islands Recovery and Renewal pilot project being delivered by North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to look at new ways of supporting Arran and Cumbrae and the delivery of the National Islands Plan.

A key part of the pilot will be to explore ways of delivering an inclusive and green economic recovery in light of Covid-19 while strengthening the island voice to ensure the unique challenges and opportunities faced by islanders are reflected in national and local policy.

Sarah has a wealth of experience in economic and community development and collaborative working, including leading the pan-Ayrshire LEADER rural development for over 10 years and is currently delivering South Ayrshire Council’s approach to Community Asset Transfer.

Councillor Alex Gallagher, Cabinet Member for Post Covid-Renewal commented on the appointment and the pilot project.

He 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.”

 Morag Goodfellow, Area Manager for Argyll and the Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said: “HIE is pleased to be supporting this important pilot project to support economic recovery from the pandemic on the islands of Cumbrae and Arran and we welcome the appointment of Sarah to the post of Senior Islands Officer. Within the context of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 and North Ayrshire Council’s Community Wealth Building strategy, this project will support collaborative and innovative ways of working to achieve outcomes.”

Sarah, the new Senior Islands Officer, said:  said: “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 will be co-funded by the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and North Ayrshire Council, which will contribute £130,000 towards the pilot. Sarah will commence her role later this month.