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02/01/14 00:01

New future for Millport base

Funding to support island economy.

Scottish Government and local government have awarded a total of £1 million to help secure the Millport marine base’s future, one year on from the University of London announcing its closure.

The base is expected to re-open in February with a total of £1 million funding to make this possible. North Ayrshire Council has been awarded £500,000 from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, which is run jointly and funded by the Government and COSLA, with the additional £500,000 being allocated by the Scottish Funding Council to Glasgow University for their role in delivering services.

The funding follows a number of meetings, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell, at which all partners agreed a plan to help save the base.

Mr Russell said:

“Over the last few months we have worked very hard with partners including North Ayrshire Council, COSLA, the University of Glasgow and the Field Studies Council to find a sustainable way to rescue the Millport marine base and safeguard its contribution to the local economy.

“Those efforts are paying off and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has been able to provide a total of £1 million to help secure the future of the base. The station is expected to re-open, under new owners, in February and this is a significant success for all those who have played a role in developing plans.”

Councillor David O’Neill, President of COSLA said:

“The Millport marine base is one of the projects funded from the first year of operation of the joint COSLA and Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. This fund helps improve physical, economic and social outcomes for communities, resulting in long term strategic and transformational change.

“I am pleased to see this funding contributing to the future of the Millport marine base. The involvement of the community in partnering North Ayrshire in seeking to prevent further local loss of key employment on the island and the delivery of positive regeneration outcomes was a key aspect of the project being successful in securing funding, and of which they should be rightly proud.”

Robert Lucas, Chief Executive Officer of the Field Studies Council, said:

“The Field Studies Council welcomes this critical funding for the Marine Station at Millport and is delighted to have the opportunity to develop a new and sustainable future for the centre building on its international reputation for marine science field teaching.

“The work to ensure the centre can re-open in February 2014 has only been made possible by the goodwill of all parties, the strong support of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and the commitment of the Scottish funding agencies.”

Councillor Willie Gibson, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said:

“I am delighted to see so many organisations pledging real support to ensure the Millport marine base has a bright future.

“Our own commitment of up to £1.5 million in capital investment, along with this latest round of regeneration funding from the Scottish Government and COSLA and a contribution from Highlands and Islands Enterprise demonstrates just how important this facility is - not only for the island community, but for North Ayrshire and indeed Scotland as a whole.”

Councillor Alan Hill, Depute Leader of North Ayrshire Council, added:

“Clearly this is just the start of the hard work needed to make the most of these valuable resources. Contractors are due to be appointed in the spring with a view to starting work on new accommodation, teaching space, renewable energy facilities and additional parking in the summer.

“With a total investment of around £4 million there is an opportunity to improve upon what has always been a highly respected facility.”

Notes to editors

North Ayrshire Council was awarded £500,000 from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, which is run jointly by the Scottish Government and COSLA. Further details are available from http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/-25-million-regeneration-boost-for-communities-688.aspx.

The Scottish Funding Council has awarded the University of Glasgow £500,000 towards their work with the Field Studies Council at the Millport base.