COUNCILLORS say more must be done to attract families and young professionals to Cumbrae after a controversial £50,000 payment scheme to encourage people move to Scottish islands was scrapped.

The Scottish Government’s Islands Bond scheme would have given up to £50,000 to up to 100 households to move to select spots in an effort to tackle depopulation.

A survey launched found that although the number of those in favour of the scheme was similar to those against, most of those in favour of the bond were non-islanders.

Despite positive responses from mainland residents, islanders believed the scheme to be a waste of taxpayers money and called for a longer-term plan to attract new people to their communities.

Cumbrae was included on the shortlist for the project before the plan was scrapped.

North Coast councillor Alan Hill, who sits on the ruling SNP administration, believes services on and to the island must be improved to make it more attractive rather than offering £50,000 per family.

He said: “The islands bond might be more successful to find people to move to remote islands, but it doesn’t really need to be that drastic for Cumbrae.

“Post-Covid we have seen a steady trickle of young professionals and families moving here, but there could still be more done to improve services.

“The island itself is a fantastic place to live, but we have got to improve accessibility, namely the ferry service, as that is where most of the issues arise.

“We also need to have sites where small businesses can grow and develop, we need to stimulate economic growth and get people to come and live on Cumbrae in that way.”

Conservative councillor Todd Ferguson, who lives locally, say the bond idea would have been scrapped straight away had islanders been spoken to.

He said: “If the Scottish Government had actually consulted properly with island communities, they would have told them straight off the bat that it was a terrible idea.

“If they want to look at making islands popular to live on, they want to look at services and how people get to and from them.

“I think it could have created some real negative feeling in the community, with people paid a huge amount to move there.

“We need to focus on improving infrastructure, not enticing people with big cheques. That won't bring the type of people who are going to integrate into a community like Cumbrae.

“With people working remotely more than ever, improving broadband should have been the focus of the Scottish Government’s planned investment.”