Island communities on Arran and Cumbrae are to be given a platform to voice their opinions and concerns over the controversial proposal to implement an increased council tax charge on second homes in North Ayrshire.

The matter was discussed during this month's North Ayrshire Council meeting after worries raised by Conservative councillors Todd Ferguson and Tom Marshall.

An islands impact assessment is to take place including a consultation, with a decision then being taken after an examination of its findings at the council chamber.

Councils will have the power to vary the council tax charge for second homes from the current 100 per cent charge to include a premium of up to a further 100 per cent of the applicable council tax charge. 

In deciding whether and how to use these new powers, the council say that they 'must have regard to island communities'.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: North Ayrshire Council chief executive Craig HattonNorth Ayrshire Council chief executive Craig Hatton (Image: North Ayrshire Council)

Chief Executive Craig Hatton said: "Given the number of second homes on the Isles of Arran and Cumbrae, increasing the council tax payable on second homes in North Ayrshire is likely to have a significantly different impact on the island communities compared to other communities.

"An island communities impact assessment requires to be carried out before deciding whether and how any increase should be applied.

"The island communities of the Cumbraes and Arran have a high proportion of second home ownership.

"A total of 31 per cent of North Ayrshire second homes are located on Cumbrae (452 properties), 40 per cent on Arran (580 properties) and 29 per cent on the mainland (432 properties).

"It is therefore recognised that introducing a premium on the applicable council tax charge on second homes is likely to have a proportionally greater impact on the islands.

"Tourism is a vital element of the island economy across both islands, and the impact of any shift in housing ownership models on tourism must be considered. In these circumstances, an increase in the council tax payable in respect of second homes is likely to have an effect on the island communities which is significantly different from its effect on other communities in North Ayrshire."

Following the consultation, a decision would then have to be made if a council tax multiplier was introduced.

During a debate at the recent council meeting, Cllr Timothy Billings asked if island councillors could have an input into how the assessment is carried out.

Craig Hatton said: "The Scottish Government have completed a consultation nationally and we will use that as as a framework and members can feed in through consultation process and indeed through the chamber during the debate."

Cllr Tom Marshall said: "We have discussed this and we really think the island council members should be involved in the draft consultation from the beginning because there are a lot of peculiarities on the island, and the impact is very huge."

Mr Hatton said: "It would be highly unusual for council members to be involved in designing a consultation exercise. The council has undertaken many consultation exercises over the years, and that would be an operational matter."

He added that it is for members to consider the findings of the consultation exercise, but advised that if members wanted to submit anything for consideration he would be 'more than happy' to receive those.