Candidates pledge to fight for Arran if elected

Cunninghame North SNP candidate Kenneth Gibson Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

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Four candidates are standing in the Cunninghame North seat, which includes Arran, at the Scottish parliamentary election to be held on Thursday May 6.

We asked each of the candidates to state what they would do for Arran and its economy if they are elected:

Kenneth Gibson

Scottish National Party (SNP)

Since 2007, the SNP government and I have worked for Arran’s people. Pre-lockdown I held 378 surgeries on Arran in nine communities over 13 years and have assisted islanders and island organisations almost every single day. If re-elected, surgeries will resume post-Covid.

Arran has a very bright future.

A re-elected SNP government will invest in island infrastructure and a green recovery. An Islands Connectivity Plan will deliver 5G by the end of 2022 and improve ferry resilience and reliability.  The MV Glen Sannox will be completed and road equivalent tariff will continue.

An Islands Bond will encourage young people and families to remain on Arran and help them to buy homes and create and sustain businesses.

North Ayrshire Council (NAC) is building 34 houses in Brodick, having secured a £2,380,000 SNP government grant, while Arran Development Trust will receive £3,612,000 to build 43 affordable homes in Lamlash.

NAC will be given powers to manage the number of second homes, refurbish derelict and abandoned properties, and house people who choose to live and work on Arran.

Previous SNP governments designated the No Take Zone in Lamlash and South Arran Marine Protected Area, and we’ll encourage the sustainable growth of Scotland’s marine tourism to more than £500 million turnover by 2025.

Arran already benefits from the SNP government’s 100 per cent rates relief for tourism and hospitality businesses and a summer campaign will encourage people to holiday on the Clyde islands.

A Net-Zero Industry Pathway will help protect and enhance natural assets while delivering a low-carbon future for Arran.

The Young Person’s Guarantee for 16-to-24-year-olds will include green and nature-based training and employment.

The SNP government legislated against the closure of rural schools, while expanding early years’ education from 600 to 1,140 free hours a year, available now at five island primary schools.

A new centre of excellence for island and remote medicine and social care will be backed by a £25 million fund for carers and people with disabilities.

I’m keen to continue working for, and with, the people and communities of Arran if re-elected.

To ensure another island-focused government: #BothVotesSNP.

Cunninghame North Scottish Labour Party candidate Katy Clark.

Katy Clark

Scottish Labour Party

Our immediate concern must be the pandemic and the aftermath. We must increase investment in Ayrshire and Arran NHS as it faces cutbacks this year. These cuts must be reversed and investment made to address the backlog made by Covid.

Extra resources are needed in cancer care, mental health and social care in particular to create a NHS which works for all, as intended when Labour created the NHS.

Arran residents know only too well the increasing unreliability of the ferry service. Bad decisions by the Scottish government on replacing ferries, the pier and the terminal have caused most of these problems.

Over the 14 years of SNP rule, there has been a failure to replace ferries across Scotland. Only five have been launched since 2007 whilst 12 launched in the 14 years prior to SNP control. With old vessels, the quality of service has diminished. Friends on Arran tell me this will not be resolved when the new ferries arrive, as these vessels are unsuitable for this route.

The SNP has also failed to sign off investment for Ardrossan harbour, which does not bode well for the future. I am calling for a short, sharp review involving the community to enable decisions to be made on the best course of action.

Housing continues to be a massive problem. Arran residents need priority in the allocation policy, but the shortage of housing can only be resolved with radical land reform. It is hugely disappointing that the Scottish parliament has not delivered this since 1999 and if elected I will use the platform to campaign for land reform to build homes on Arran and make economic decisions in the interests of the community.

I have worked closely with COAST on marine protection legislation and am concerned about how we strengthen marine protection further with the banning of practises such as scallop dredging and an increase in the use of fishing bans.

I thoroughly enjoyed representing Arran as your MP for 10 years and working with the local community. It would be a privilege to represent the community again in the Scottish parliament, listening to local people’s views and experiences and standing up for Arran on the issues which matter.

Cunninghame North Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate Jamie Greene.

Jamie Greene

Scottish Conservative and Unionist   

It has been a pleasure to represent Arran as a regional member of the Scottish parliament these past five years. I have done all I can to stand up for our island communities which have been let down for so long.

In my opinion, we deserve better. The SNP passed a so-called Islands Bill during this parliamentary session but can we say that island life is better?

Where was the island-proofing in the Glen Sannox ferry fiasco? Or the countless crossings cancelled, technical failures and yet no replacement vessel in sight? Aside from the spiralling cost and frustrations around port infrastructure, businesses have struggled to move goods, and many islanders have missed vital hospital and medical appointments. Connecting our islands to the rest of the country surely should be a given? Sadly, the SNP has failed in every aspect of this.

Arran’s residents urgently need a ferry service that is fit for purpose and an MSP who will shout from the rafters about this. I will launch a full ferry plan consultation which will properly take residents’ views into account on the type of ferry they want and what they expect from the service. We need new ferries and we need them fast.

Local services must also be properly funded. In 10 years, the SNP has cut North Ayrshire Council’s revenue funding by 14 per cent, despite its central government budget increasing by nine per cent. These cuts must be reversed through a ‘fair funding formula’ giving an extra £60 million to North Ayrshire and Arran for the local services we deserve; better broadband, fit for purpose roads, amenities for tourism and a much-needed consultation over what happens in our seas and environment.

The SNP has had 14 years to make its case to islands. It must now pay the price for taking its eye off the ball.

Our focus should be on recovering from Covid, improving education, revitalising our economy and tackling hospital backlogs, not dividing our communities further with referendums. I make no apologies for standing up for you, in return I now ask for both your constituency and party votes to re-elect me.

Cunninghame North Scottish Liberal Democrats candidate Ruby Kirkwood.

Ruby Kirkwood

Scottish Liberal Democrats

I have lived in North Ayrshire for 32 years and currently live in Kilwinning, and previously I have served as a councillor for North Ayrshire Council. As a mum and a former councillor, I know what our families need. I know what are the real priorities of local families and their complaints that have gone unheard from the local administration.

I fully back my party’s ideas on how to help Scotland bounce back. The Scottish Liberal Democrats and I want to make sure every young person can achieve their potential, with an education that embeds skills for life.

Scottish tourism business suffered greatly during the pandemic. Too many of them were not eligible for support schemes until very late, if at all. The uncertainty and the constantly changing regulations made it difficult to plan. I want to change that. Our area has so much to offer, it’s natural scenery is part of our heritage and pride. We don’t just simply have to protect it, we also need to promote it.

Currently I work in adult social care, a sector I really enjoy as it allows me to show my personality traits – caring and hardworking. As someone who works in the field, I see the problems the SNP administration has created and perpetuated for over a decade.

Scotland’s social care sector needs reform after the hell it has been through in the last year. I want to put my best qualities and experiences to the disposal of our community.  I am forward thinking and, if elected, will do anything I can to help Cunninghame North improve and to protect our community.

My offer is honest, clear and optimistic, just like me. I want to put recovery first, and help our local community flourish and successfully bounce back from the disruption the pandemic has created. If you want to put recovery first, and see our constituency bloom, vote Scottish Liberal Democrats.