A recent letter which appeared in the columns of The Buteman sparked a discussion at the most recent meeting of Bute Community Council as to how to turn around the island’s fortunes.
The letter, which appeared in the August 15 edition, and was titled ‘Bute needs to speak with one voice’, was written by Mark Cumming of Hong Kong, and compared the island with its neighbour, Arran.
Raised by community councillor, Ellen Cromack, at Wednesday’s meeting, the letter stated: “I was struck by the difference in personality that Arran presents to the world in comparison with Bute. Quite simply, Arran speaks with one voice.
“Its community, its businesses, the local authority and even its visitors never miss opportunities to use the word Arran. The promotion of even the smallest business seems to be in step with the thinking of the tourist authority’s marketing strategy.
“Bute you have much to offer, but you’re sending very mixed messages.
“Come together, collaborate, and stop looking at your neighbours as competition. The reality is that it’s the island across the water that’s stealing your business...not the guy across the street.”
Community councillor, Ray Beverley, commented: “One of the problems is getting everyone involved. People have to stop moaning and come together. I would like to think that, yes, over the last year or so, it’s changing.”
Frank Baxter added: I think it is improving, maybe slowly, too slowly, but certainly people are talking about the micro-brewery and that will hopefully encourage people to come to Bute.
Mike Blair said: “I totally agree. We hide behind ‘high ferry fares killing Bute’. With RET we have a golden opportunity to say to people ‘Come to Bute, it’s so inexpensive’.
“We have a unique product here. If Visit Bute can ride on the back of RET then go for it.
Speaking of new company Bute Brew Co., Henry Tait commented: “We [Rothesay Brandane FC] sold the beer at the Highland Games this year, and we couldn’t believe the interest in it.”
Martin Catlin commented: “How can we cohesively work together? And work with the council? The council has an economic development officer - is it possible to invite them down to coordinate an island event where key players are invited, like Mount Stuart, etc? They could have a brainstorming session and work together in a coordinated fashion? That might be an idea.”