Ar­gyll pop­u­la­tion de­cline con­cerns

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s leader wants to in­volve cab­i­net min­is­ters in the bat­tle against the area’s de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Coun­cil­lor Aileen Mor­ton has sent a let­ter to fi­nance sec­re­tary Derek Mackay and com­mu­ni­ties sec­re­tary Aileen Camp­bell, along with the other eight coun­cil lead­ers whose ar­eas are hit by de­pop­u­la­tion.

The coun­cil leader in neigh­bour­ing West Dun­bar­ton­shire has also signed the let­ter, along with the lead­ers of In­ver­clyde, Western Isles, Dum­fries and Gal­loway and all three Ayr­shire au­thor­i­ties.

Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton said: ‘We out­lined in our let­ter the var­i­ous im­pacts aris­ing from pro­jected pop­u­la­tion changes 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.’

Ar­gyll and Bute is pro­jected to lose two per cent of its house­holds by 2041 – de­spite the fact its pop­u­la­tion in­creased over the year to the end of June 2016.

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.

‘We have asked to meet ur­gently with the two cab­i­net sec­re­taries to ex­plore a part­ner­ship ap­proach to tack­ling pop­u­la­tion growth on the West Coast.’

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