The 'precarious future' of the popular Screen Machine has been discussed in the Scottish Parliament as island communities, including Millport, hope for its future to be secured.

Cumbrae was one of the popular destinations for the mobile cinema unit until this year when the operation had to take on a new vehicle - which was unable to visit the island because of access issues.

However, hopes of the situation only being temporary took a twist when Regional Screen Scotland, which runs the service to island communities, called for funding for a new Screen Machine vehicle, in light of concerns that a lack of funding could lead to the end of the service.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Angus Robertson, told MSPs at Holyrood: " I recognise the valuable role that Screen Machine plays in bringing cinema to rural communities for which access to culture is limited, and I note the £176,000 funding that Screen Scotland provided to Screen Machine earlier this year, which is allowing Screen Machine to lease a temporary replacement cinema until April 2024."

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan, who represents the Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) constituency, said: "Screen Machine is a much-cherished service, as we have heard, for people who would otherwise have to travel long distances to get to a static cinema.

"Does the cabinet secretary share my view that that popular and well-used cultural service must be able to access the relevant support to commission a new greener vehicle that will allow it to visit our rural and island communities?

Mr Robertson responded: "I am absolutely clear on the value that Screen Machine brings to the communities that it visits, the esteem that its audiences hold it in, and its contribution to cutting carbon emissions through reducing audience travel."

Mr Robertson said he planned to meet Regional Screen Scotland this month to discuss the issue in more depth.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Scottish Culture secretary Angus Robertson was to meet with Regional Screen ScotlandScottish Culture secretary Angus Robertson was to meet with Regional Screen Scotland (Image: Newsquest)
And Labour list MSP Neil Bibby has now written to Mr Roberston looking for an update on that meeting.

in a letter to Mr Robertson, Mr Bibby, who represents the West Scotland region, said: "The Screen Machine is 25 years old this year and is a vital service that provides rural and island communities with access to the cinema, visiting over 40 island communities per year. 

"The Screen Machine 2 has had to be decommissioned, and the current lease on the replacement Cinemobile expires in April 2024.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:
"Without intervention, the Screen Machine service will be wound down.

"A new Screen Machine will cost approximately £1.4m and needs between one year and eighteen months to build.

"Regional Screen Scotland has asked the Scottish government to provide 50 per cent of the cost which will allow the build to being as soon as possible, with the remainder raised through fundraising."