Kintyre in the zone for repopulation

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Kintyre has been named as one of four areas of Argyll and Bute that will form a key part of a campaign to boost the area’s population after a unanimous decision by councillors.

The area from Tarbert to Southend has been identified as a ‘repopulation zone along with the Rosneath peninsula, Bute and Tiree and Coll as part of a programme of work’.

The proposed programme, including the appointment of a settlement officer, was revealed in a report ahead of a key meeting last Thursday.

After new information came to light, it was decided that part of each of Argyll and Bute’s four administrative areas should be defined as a ‘repopulation zone’.

This is defined in a council report as an area which should show boldness in economic transformation and a person-centred approach. It should also ‘consider the impact on vulnerable families’ to attract young working age people to the area.

The authority’s policy and resources committee also unanimously agreed to take forward a pilot project which takes a thematic approach to addressing population challenges. It will include the settlement officer post for a year, funded by the council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Executive director Kirsty Flanagan said: ‘Following the writing of the report, [chief executive] Pippa Milne had engagement with HIE, which confirmed it was happy for officers to work on housing, but we should identify zones for further activity.

‘We have given this further consideration and are of the view we should pick up an area within each administrative area.

‘We feel this provides a good mix. The feeling was that if we did not identify repopulation zones we could be left behind and we do not want to miss out.

‘We recommend that members support taking forward a pilot project, resourced by a settlement officer, and focus on repopulation zones for further research.’

Council leader, Kintyre and the Islands councillor Robin Currie, said: ‘Addressing the population is a high priority for this council, if not the priority, and we should be doing all we can.’

He then moved a motion which asked for the pilot project to be agreed, along with the four repopulation zones.

He also asked the committee to note the repopulation zones had been decided after looking at a full range of factors affecting population levels.

He added: ‘No additional funding has been identified yet by the Scottish Government in relation to these zones.

‘But their identification will allow the council to continue to take an active part in developing this area of work alongside the Western Isles, Highland and North Ayrshire councils who have also identified zones.’

He also asked that population issues across all of Argyll and Bute were highlighted to the Convention of the Highlands and Islands and that more was sought to be done at pace.

His motion was seconded by Helensburgh Central councillor Gary Mulvaney and was unanimously backed by the committee.