South Kintyre Councillor, John Semple, is calling on Argyll and Bute Council to repay a borrowed £480,000 to secure the future of the Campbeltown Marina project.
Last year, Kintyre Councillors reluctantly agreed to an administration proposal that money should be taken from the Campbeltown CHORD regeneration project’s funding and spent on an all-weather sports pitch.
This was controversial since doing it put the necessary development of the Campbeltown marina at risk – the specific budget pocket out of which the council took the money.
But now a very substantial council surplus has come to light in the draft budget papers issued last Thursday (26th January 2012).
Councillor Semple is demanding that, in the light of this surplus, the money taken for the All Weather Pitch be promptly restored to the marina project.
Mr Semple says: ‘Argyll and Bute Councils draft budget this year provides the opportunity to end the uncertainty of the Marina project.
‘When the SNP (Ed: his party)were part of the ruling administration, we set in motion a wide ranging service review which is now in its third year. That review is paying dividends – the Council Leader has a three year projected budget surplus of nearly £4.5 million.
‘I am calling on the administration to reinstate the funding which was diverted from the Campbeltown CHORD Project to the All Weather Pitch.
‘The marina project is important for the regeneration of Campbeltown’s waterfront. Consultants have calculated that it could bring one million pounds of income to the town centre every year.
‘If the present administration of the council is to salvage any credibility in the way they have handled CHORD they must repay Campbeltown’s missing regeneration funds.’
There was widespread support on Campbeltown for the All Weather Pitch – which, by rights should have been created long ago. So when there was a chance of getting it done and the council would only agree to viring funding from the CHORD projects for the town, Councillors agreed.
This was and remains a controversial fudge, with a first class marina essential to Campbeltown’s economic development, positioning itself as a serious player in the leisure and tourism industry – with a marina, a fast passenger ferry across the water to the north coast of Northern Ireland, an annual half marathon and 10K run (MOKRUN) that draws visitors to the area from a very wide geographical spectrum , surfing at West Beach, two world class golf courses at Machrihanish and two regenerated first class classic grand hotels – the Royal in Campbeltown and the Ugadale at Machrihanish.
The Campbeltown Marina development is also essential to Argyll’s economic development, with its unparalleled natural resources for leisure and competitive sailing left largely to chance and the private sector to earn for the area.
Councillor Semple’s well-taken challenge is onwe that must be answered positively and quickly for the sake of a sustainable future for Campbeltown and the entire Kintyre peninsula – achingly beautiful but economically and infrastructurally fragile to the point of real concern.