Naval base is of lit­tle eco­nomic ben­e­fit

The Oban Times - - Letters -

Sir, I see that Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil web­site has a press re­lease claim­ing credit for an in­crease in pop­u­la­tion within the area of 240.

This was picked up and an­a­lysed by the Lochside Press. It was not im­pressed and won­dered if the 15 fam­i­lies of Syr­ian refugees taken in on Bute may ac­count for most of that num­ber.

I thought about it some more and added in the story from the Min­istry of De­fence about the ben­e­fits of the new sub­marines be­ing based in Faslane. There are now three out of a planned seven in ser­vice at the base.

The story was that these sub­marines would bring thousands of new per­son­nel and a great boost to the local econ­omy.

Al­most half are in ser­vice here and af­ter years of pop­u­la­tion re­duc­tions we now have an in­crease of 240 this past year.

Some of these new sailors may have moved home and be counted among the pop­u­la­tion but most are more likely in ser­vice ac­com­mo­da­tion in­side the base and trav­el­ling home to their per­ma­nent abode else­where. They should not be counted as a ben­e­fit to Ar­gyll and Bute.

If you look be­hind the story, trum­peted as good news and as a re­sult of work by the coun­cil, the truth is that there is still an on­go­ing and per­sis­tent prob­lem of an age­ing pop­u­la­tion. Many in­dige­nous young peo­ple have to move and take ac­com­mo­da­tion else­where to find de­cent em­ploy­ment which con­tin­ues the shrink­age of the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion.

Let’s not any longer lis­ten to, or be­lieve, the con­tin­u­ally re­peated and ex­ag­ger­ated sto­ries about the enor­mous ben­e­fits to Ar­gyll and Bute from the base in Faslane.

The num­ber of lo­cals em­ployed within the base is reg­u­larly shrink­ing; it is now a frac­tion of what it was 10 or 15 years ago and the con­trac­tors that run it are seek­ing to re­duce the num­bers still fur­ther.

The navy no longer moves large num­bers to the area but prefers to in­crease the in­ter­nal ac­com­mo­da­tion and have the sailors live there Mon­day to Fri­day and travel home at week­ends. Dougie Black­wood, 1 Dou­glas Drive, East He­lens­burgh.

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