CALLS have been made to islanders to throw a lifeline to the axed Cumbrae National Watersports Centre.

An urgent summit is taking place involving North Ayrshire Council, sportscotland and island groups over what happens next to the building - with councillor Alex Gallagher hoping that it can be preserved for future use and benefit to the island.

The Labour member, who chairs the islands portfolio on the North Ayrshire Cabinet, says unless a local solution is found the land could end up sold off for an alternative use.

He said: ""We are calling a meeting of the island groups on Cumbrae to look at any possibilities.

"Cumbrae National Watersports Centre is managed and owned by sportscotland and we are looking first of all to communicate the current situation and see if there are any proposals or ideas we can put up to ensure the facility stays as a local one. The council will certainly be helping in any asset transfer or business plans any groups may have.

"If we can't find a local solution, sportscotland will take it back to do with it what they want. We will try our best to find a local community or business purpose and hopefully we can find something fruitful to maintain this valuable facility for the island."

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall has labelled the closure of the 44-year-old centre as a 'disgrace'.

He said: "I am bitterly disappointed. There was talk of the building becoming some sort of sailing academy under the auspices of Largs Sailing Club and the Royal Yachting Association, but it appears that is now not going to happen. They are going to put money into some development officers not in this area but further away.

"It is a missed opportunity to take young people sailing on the Clyde. Some of my family went on courses at the centre and greatly enjoyed it. Its loss is a real shame.

"I think Sportscotland have a policy of no redundancies so they need to find places for these people who have lost their jobs, but that alone is going to be difficult."

The Tory councillor says he hopes that islanders see an opportunity and grasp it. He added: "I think they are hoping that the local community might take it on and develop it in some way. I think it is an ideal opportunity for a commercial developer to complement the tourism facilities. It is well equipped but does need a lot of maintenance.

"The council would support the move for an outside operator if nobody local could take it on.

"Sportscotland is well funded and quite frankly it is a disgrace that they are not putting money into keeping the centre operational."

A spokesperson for sportscotland said: “The decision to close Cumbrae was taken earlier this year following a lengthy review of the centre and prior to the current pandemic.

"We explored many options and Cumbrae remaining open was no longer feasible. Whilst we were disappointed at the closure, the review showed it was the right thing to do. We had hoped to deliver the summer 2020 season and our staff were working towards that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic."