Highlands and Islands MSP, Jamie McGrigor, has challenged the Scottish Government on the action it is taking to reverse the projected population decline in Argyll and Bute.
Mr McGrigor raised the issue at Question Time in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, May 29, to highlight his concerns about recently published data from the National Records of Scotland which have predicted that Argyll and Bute’s population will fall by 13.5 percent by 2037 - the second largest projected decline in the whole of Scotland.
The data also indicated that the working age population will fall by almost 22 percent.
Mr McGrigor emphasised that increased economic growth was vital in reversing this decline.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, said he had sympathy for the points raised by Mr McGrigor, and added that improving digital connectivity was an ongoing priority for the Scottish Government, and confirmed he would be participating in Argyll and Bute Council’s population summit later this year.
Mr McGrigor said: “I share the concerns of many in Argyll and Bute about its projected depopulation which risks the critical mass we need to maintain important public services and decreases our local tax base.
“As I emphasised in parliament today, attracting new jobs and investment to Argyll and Bute is key to reversing this decline and this means having the best possible infrastructure in terms of transport links and broadband access. Previous closures of the A83 trunk road have been unhelpful for the image of this area and that is why I have campaigned consistently for long term solutions to be put in place to ensure that road is not subject to closures. Reliable broadband provision is also critically important and too many communities in rural Argyll and Bute, such as those in south and mid Kintyre who have recently contacted me on the subject, don’t have the reliable broadband that is so important for businesses, including tourism businesses.
“I will continue to press Ministers on these matters at every available opportunity as reversing population decline is one of the very biggest challenges facing the Argyll and Bute area.”