New national population estimates were released at the end of October by the National Records of Scotland [NRS]. These indicate that Scotland’s population will rise from 5.35 million in 2014 to 5.51 million over the next 10 years and grow to 5.7 million by 2039, an increase of 7% over the next 25 year period.
However, in contrast, the NRS last year predicted that Argyll and Bute’s population will fall by 13.5% by 2037, the second largest projected decline of any local authority in Scotland. At the same time, the working age population is predicted to fall by almost 22%.
Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands MSP, and Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservative Candidate for Argyll & Bute in next year’s Holyrood election, have repeated calls to make it a policy priority to tackle Argyll & Bute’s projected population decline .
Donald Cameron says: ‘The new NRS data confirms that Scotland’s population is due to increase in the years ahead. This is in stark contrast to the predictions for Argyll & Bute – and is another timely reminder of the need for national government, its agencies and local government to make tackling projected depopulation in the area a continuing policy priority.
‘The consequences of Argyll & Bute’s population decline are already being felt to some extent, for example in the Local Government Boundary Commission’s decision to cut three councillors from the area and radically alter the boundaries of the remaining wards, something that has led to significant local concern.
‘Boosting economic growth and attracting new businesses and jobs to the area is fundamental and this means we need to see real investment in our road links and ferry services and the delivery of reliable broadband across all parts of Argyll & Bute. The area has a great deal to offer new businesses, visitors and prospective residents alike but we need to make sure our infrastructure is robust and Argyll & Bute can compete with other parts of Scotland.’
Jamie McGrigor MSP, who earlier this year initiated a Member’s Debate in the Scottish Parliament on addressing Argyll & Bute’s projected depopulation, says: ‘I have already welcomed the creation of Argyll and Bute’s Economic Forum and wish it success in seeking to increase economic development in the area.
‘Trying to reverse depopulation is one of the biggest challenges facing Argyll & Bute as in some areas we run the risk of losing the critical mass- and associated tax income needed to sustain vital public services.
‘I will continue to speak out on this subject and press the Scottish Government to focus on this very serious long term issue.’