Council to debate ‘key challenges’ for Argyll and Bute

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Councillors are set to debate ways to continue to make Argyll and Bute an attractive place to live and work.

The area’s draft economic strategy and action plan will go before the authority’s environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday (March 7).

It addresses key challenges for the council, such as public transport, area regeneration and sustaining creative industries.

The draft strategy, which accompanies a report by executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne, said: ‘A number of key and fundamental challenges still remain for our economy in terms of our infrastructure needs, addressing our demographic challenges, low productivity, addressing levels of underemployment and lower wages than the national average, particularly for females.

‘With new opportunities and challenges now clearly presenting themselves, there is now a compelling need for a new Argyll and Bute economic strategy that focusses on our key priorities, (and) takes account of the resources we have available as a council including working with our strategic partners.

‘Argyll and Bute’s offer to the world has continued to be developed and promoted to potential new residents, visitors and investors.

‘Inward investment has been attracted to the region due the high quality of life we can offer, the benefits of our scenic, coastal location with much of the area in close proximity to Scotland’s central belt, our stunning built heritage and our increasingly diverse rural economy with a growing reputation for innovation.’

The draft strategy states that improving transport connectivity is a top priority for Argyll and Bute, and vitally important to the area’s future.

As well as connectivity for residents and visitors, it is also considered that it would mean better connections for employment, goods and services.

It also highlighted the importance of keeping the area moving forward in the digital age, with a fit-for-purpose network also a priority.

The document added: ‘The council will therefore continue to work with the Scottish Government and our national and regional transport partners to influence where future investment is prioritised in order to facilitate improvements to our transport infrastructure that best addresses the above issues.

‘Our role here is to influence, inform and lobby government, national and regional and transport agencies for improved transport connectivity throughout, and to and from, Argyll and Bute.

‘Having access to modern, fit for purpose and affordable, digital infrastructure is now essential for most people to choose to live in a place and support a prosperous and inclusive economy.

‘The council will continue to influence and coordinate work with our key stakeholders such as the UK and Scottish Governments, BT, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Digital Scotland to deliver the roll out of national digital programmes for broadband and mobile connectivity.’