Area’s pop­u­la­tion de­cline con­cerns

Campbeltown Courier - - NEWS -

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s leader has writ­ten to cab­i­net min­is­ters about the area’s de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion. Coun­cil­lor Aileen Mor­ton and lead­ers from eight other coun­cils hit by de­pop­u­la­tion sent a joint let­ter to fi­nance sec­re­tary Derek Mackay, and com­mu­ni­ties sec­re­tary Aileen Camp­bell. In a re­port for a full coun­cil meet­ing due to be held yes­ter­day, Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton re­vealed the let­ter was sent on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 29 – but that nearly a month later, there was no sub­stan­tive re­sponse. The coun­cil leader in neigh­bour­ing West Dun­bar­ton­shire has also signed the joint let­ter, along with the lead­ers of In­ver­clyde, Western Isles, Dum­fries and Gal­loway and all three Ayr­shire au­thor­i­ties. Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton said: ‘The lead­ers of the eight western Scot­tish lo­cal au­thor­i­ties af­fected by de­pop­u­la­tion got to­gether for a third ses­sion at the con­clu­sion of Con­ven­tion of Scot­tish Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties (COSLA) lead­ers on Septem­ber 28. ‘We agreed to send a joint let­ter – high­light­ing our shared con­cerns at a de­vel­op­ing trend of east-west in­equal­ity based on pro­jected pop­u­la­tion ex­pan­sion sta­tis­tics. ‘We out­lined the var­i­ous im­pacts aris­ing from pro­jected pop­u­la­tion changes and which risk un­der­min­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of our com­mu­ni­ties, as well as the abil­ity of the western Scot­tish re­gion to de­liver in­clu­sive eco­nomic growth. ‘These in­clude bar­ri­ers to busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity, in­vest­ment and growth due to scarcity of labour and skills, risks to spe­cific key sec­tors like agri­cul­ture, aqua­cul­ture, tourism and food and drink, and threats to pub­lic ser­vices re­sult­ing from re­duced fund­ing due to de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion – cre­at­ing a vi­cious cy­cle from which we can­not es­cape. ‘They also in­clude the in­abil­ity to re­cruit in es­sen­tial ar­eas like health and so­cial care and ed­u­ca­tion, loss of spend­ing power in com­mu­ni­ties, im­pact­ing lo­cal busi­ness, vi­a­bil­ity of higher/fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing of­fer, and hous­ing is­sues – in­clud­ing poorly main­tained/aban­doned pri­vate sec­tor and high void rates in the so­cial sec­tor.’ Ar­gyll and Bute is pro­jected to lose two per cent of its house­holds by 2041 – de­spite the fact that its pop­u­la­tion in­creased in the year to the end of June 2016. It was one of only four coun­cil ar­eas tipped for a pop­u­la­tion de­cline by a Na­tional Records of Scot­land re­port in July, although the other four coun­cils which signed the doc­u­ment were touted for a min­i­mal in­crease. Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton added: ‘We made it clear that we ac­knowl­edge the sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment in hand or planned across Scot­land through the Growth Deals pro­gramme, but that this ap­proach alone will not ad­dress the scale of chal­lenge fac­ing the west coast area. ‘We have asked to meet ur­gently with the two cab­i­net sec­re­taries to ex­plore a part­ner­ship ap­proach to tack­ling west coast pop­u­la­tion growth.’

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil leader Aileen Mor­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.