Next step in rural growth deal for Argyll and Bute

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A rural growth deal for Argyll and Bute will take another step forward if an outline proposal is agreed at a special meeting of council this week.

A report going to the policy and resources committee and special council meeting on Thursday sets out an ambitious, multi-million pound proposal for UK and Scottish Government investment in growing Argyll and Bute’s economy.

Council Leader, Councillor Aileen Morton, explained why the council is seeking a rural growth deal: “Argyll and Bute brings together much of what is best about Scotland – natural resources that drive forward national and international business markets, expertise that inspires innovation, and people committed to developing the prosperous future the area needs and deserves.

“To turn business opportunity into the success our future needs, we must reverse the decline in our population. Forecasts estimate that by 2027 we will need 10,000 more people to continue delivering the services we all rely upon, and more again to grow our economy.

“We have had positive initial discussions with both the UK and Scottish Governments about the challenges and opportunities Argyll and Bute presents for the Scottish and UK economies, and have been invited to submit a proposal for a rural growth deal this month.

“Our ambition is to secure transformational investment to develop our economy and so our future.”

“The proposal is made up of 16 individual projects which have been developed following consultation with the public, as well as local and national organisations with a role to play in making the deal happen.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, policy lead for strategic finance and capital regeneration, explained that, if agreed at Council next week, these projects will serve as a starter for negotiation with the UK and Scottish Governments: “There are limits to what we can ask for as part of a deal. Growth deals don’t provide funding for day-to-day council services for example, so do not help in bridging budget funding gaps.

“To be successful, a deal has to tie local growth with the aims of the UK and Scottish Governments.

“The projects set out in the proposal are about placing investment where it would deliver best, long term benefit for the area.

“We developed them with the help of the public, who responded to our consultation, and with key partner organisations drawn from the private, third and public sectors.

“While they may change as negotiations progress, these projects provide a strong starting point for negotiation, and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to us reaching this stage.

“Local backing plays an important part in securing a deal and that has come through loud and clear.”