A PETITION has been launched up by campaigners in a bid to save closure-threatened Cumbrae Watersports Centre.

A leaked report revealed that sportscotland is considering axing the 43 year old centre - with the loss of 15 full time and 25 part time jobs - and replacing it with a national sailing academy in Largs.

Almost 900 people have already signed up opposing the plan, with islanders this week telling the news the move has left them 'in a state of shock'.

Island bus driver Robert Wilson said: "Losing the centre would be another nail in the coffin for our fragile economy.

"We have already been asked to help save the pier, the town hall, and we have chip in to keep the public toilets open and grass verges haven't been cut since May. Where will it end?".

Margaret Kennedy, owner of the Royal George Hotel, said: "My granddaughter recently took part in a course at the Watersports Centre and when she booked there was only one other place left, so it is busy enough.

"This would have a huge impact on the island. It is just like the battle to save the marine biology station all over again."

Angela Giorgetti, owner of Angela's Beauty Spa, said: "The island has been campaigning hard to save the town hall, save the Waverley and now we have to fight to save the Watersports Centre. There are jars everywhere for collections for campaigns.

"This is the last thing that the island needs."

Largs councillor Tom Marshall, speaking on behalf of the North Ayrshire Conservative Group, said the plan must be opposed.

He added: "As a Scottish government quango, it is the duty of sportscotland to deliver and promote sport and physical activity, not to cut back on an existing provision.

"It is clear that with some extra funding and better promotion there is no reason that the centre on Cumbrae won't be successful, perhaps working in partnership with the new £12 million investment in the Inverclyde Centre in Largs."

Fellow councillor Alan Hill said: “The Scottish National Watersports Centre's closure would be a major blow to a fragile island economy.

"I appreciate that times are hard financially and that tough decisions have to be made, but at the same time, we also have to take account of the local economy.

"Whatever decision is reached, it is essential that the local community is involved in the decision-making process going forward.

"I will certainly do whatever I can to work with the local community to protect jobs and services on the island.”

Green MSP Ross Greer has asked Minister for Sport Joe Fitzpatrick to intervene.

He said: "Whilst the review of the facility has not yet been completed, the majority of work has already been done and closure has been presented to centre staff as an option.

“This news will be deeply distressing to the community on Cumbrae as well as the wider watersports community. If the Scottish Government wants to live up to its rhetoric on making Scotland a healthier, more active nation and support island communities, they must intervene.

“Instead of closing the centre, it should be invested in to improve its offering and better promoted."

People can add their name to the petition at www.change.org/p/sport-scotland-save-sportscotland-cumbrae-national-watersports-centre