A historic bill has been passed by MSP’s which will strengthen islands like Cumbrae by offering it greater powers.

The islands bill was unanimously passed by MSP’s which gives island councils more powers over local assets and ensures islands are not disadvantaged by their location

SNP, MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “This is a landmark piece of legislation, which will put the distinct needs of island communities like Cumbrae at the heart of decision-making across the public sector.”

The key provisions of the bill include the creation of a National Islands Plan, which will set out an agreed strategic direction for all Scottish public authorities with an interest in improving the outcome for the islands.

Islands Minister Humza Yousaf called the vote an ‘important milestone’ in helping the islands to prosper.

He said: “Scotland’s islands have contributed hugely to our past and our present and with this bill, and other measures, they will now have the opportunity to contribute even further to their own and our collective futures.”

The bill will also require ministers to put in place a long-term plan of improvement for the islands.

Conservative, MSP Jamie Greene said: “I was delighted to play my part in helping shape the islands bill into its completed form.

“We spent the best part of a year taking evidence, visiting islands and debating in order to strengthen our island communities and that is what we have done with this legislation.

“This bill is evidence of the great work the Scottish Parliament can do when it works together and focuses on tackling real issues that matter to real people.”

Although the Conservative MSP believes that the legislation will go a long way in serving the needs of both Cumbrae and Arran, he believed it could have gone further.

Prior to the bills passing Mr Greene lodged an amendment which would allow an exemption from the number of electorates required to form a ward- this would have allowed islands such as Cumbrae to form its own ward separate from the main land.

The West of Scotland MSP believed that this approach would ensure islands were better represented in North Ayrshire Council, with elected councillors exclusively representing the needs of the island community.

However, this amendment was not passed, which Mr Greene believes was due to Mr Gibson leading the SNP campaign against it.

Mr Green said: “It’s astonishing to see the constituency MSP not just vote against this amendment, but to actively lead the SNP's charge against a change that would strengthen Cumbrae and Arran's position in North Ayrshire Council.

“I’m extremely disappointed by these actions which will impact islands in North Ayrshire for many years to come.”

Mr Gibson said that the Conservative MSP had only submitted the amendment on behalf of NAC after he declined to.

He said: “Had this amendment passed, a vote on Millport would be worth three times one in Largs, that is neither fair nor appropriate and, of course other islands in other local authorities would have been impacted.

“Millport currently has four councillors shared with Largs, Fairlie and Skelmorlie and so Cumbrae has four voices out of 33 on NAC- with the amendment Mr Greene supported it would have only one out of 35.”

Despite this the bill was passed unanimously and will now be submitted to the Queen for Royal Assent.

Under the legislation, the first National Islands Plan must be laid before Parliament within a year.