John Swinney MSP, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth, will be the key speaker at an Argyll and Bute Population Summit next month.
The event, to be held at the Queen’s Hall in Dunoon on Friday, May 9, will be told that turning round Argyll and Bute’s population decline is key to building the economy of the area.
The summit is being held in response to statistics from the most recent UK census, which showed a fall of 3.4 per cent - more than 3,000 people - in the population of Argyll and Bute between 2001 and 2011.
The fall was even steeper on Bute itself, where the population declined by 730 people - or 10.1 per cent - during the same ten-year period.
The Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership has already held a series of workshops in communities throughout the area, including Rothesay, in the hope of identifying the causes of the decline and the best way to turn it around.
“Argyll and Bute has ambitions and opportunities for prosperity,” said council leader Dick Walsh.
“We need to attract more people to the area to make them happen. We need to reverse the decline in our population.
“Achieving this will mean everyone who contributes to Argyll and Bute as a great place to live, work and visit will be required to work together to deliver progress where it is needed.
“Building a strong economy is set out as a key priority in Argyll and Bute’s Single Outcome Agreement, which has been agreed by local and national community planning partners. A lot of work is already being done to support and develop our economy, and to identify how to make Argyll and Bute a great place to live, work and visit.
“The Population Summit will build on this work by bringing together local and national expertise to identify steps that will drive forward economic progress for Argyll and Bute.
“It’s about retaining and attracting new people, developing and diversifying our economy, improving quality of life issues such as our digital connectivity and securing a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute.”
The summit will bring together key representatives from local and national government, the business, public and voluntary sectors to debate action needed to increase the area’s population and build a prosperous and sustainable economic future for Argyll and Bute.
The event will not, however, be open to all: instead, delegates have been invited personally to attend, “to ensure,” in the words of an Argyll and Bute Council news release on the subject, “a wide range of expertise and experience.”