A DEAL between three local authorities responsible for the wellbeing of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park has been trashed — leaving Inverclyde Council liable for increased costs.

Official say North Ayrshire Council has reneged on a legal agreement and pulled the plug on its support for the park without giving a statutory two-year notice period.

Now Municipal Buildings chiefs here and at Renfrewshire Council — which made up the triumvirate of organisations involved — must now oversee a 'diminished' asset.

Inverclyde's head of legal services Gerard Malone told councillors: "I have to report it as it is, that the contractual notice was not formally undertaken.

"The actual formal legal notice, such that if we were wanting to withdraw and which you would expect me to be giving, was not given."

A report to the council's environment and regeneration committee stated: 'Any withdrawal from the joint committee will diminish the land area of the park that is jointly managed to achieve the aims and objectives of the park authority.'

Both Inverclyde and Renfrewshire councils, which remain committed to the park, have decided that they will take responsibility only for the areas which fall within their respective boundaries.

It means that the main parts of the park here — The Greenock Cut and its visitor centre and Lunderston Bay — will be unaffected by North Ayrshire's decision.

The current Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority is heading for a projected operating deficit of £166,000 this year as a result of Covid-19.

It appears likely that Inverclyde will now have to pay the wages of up to three members of park staff who will transfer as a result of North Ayrshire's move, which will come into effect by April 1 next year.

Council leader Stephen McCabe said: "It says in the report under the legal section that formal timescales for withdrawal do not appear to have been implemented.

"It would be useful to understand what the implications are of that, particularly in relation to winding up and any potential deficit that there might be on winding up.

Senior official Stuart Jamieson responded: "The formal position was that members of the park authority were supposed to give two years notice.

"Clearly, the available budget is something which members had to be aware of.

"With North Ayrshire withdrawing their funding that established a precedent.

"We're not technically winding the park up, we're just looking at disaggregation of the park.

"So there will still be Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park."

Mr McCabe said: "If due legal notice wasn't given and we get to the point where the park authority is wound up, and there is a deficit, simply because North Ayrshire said, 'We're walking away and we're not paying you anymore money', I don't believe that relieves them of any potential liability for the deficit."

Legal officer Mr Malone assured the committee that any deficit would be split between the three councils.

The Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority was formed in 1990.

A spokeswoman for North Ayrshire Council said: "At a meeting of North Ayrshire Council on February 12, approval was given to withdraw from the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park Joint Committee.

"We currently have no facilities within the boundaries of the regional park.

"Over the past three years we gradually reduced our financial contribution in line with its medium-term financial plans and in line with the minimal reportable levels of activity in the park which relate to North Ayrshire residents.

"North Ayrshire continues to work with the lead authority in relation to Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park."