Categories: News

“Argyll and Bute faces a depopulations crisis”: 

The Prime Minister has snubbed local MP, Brendan O’Hara and Argyll and Bute’s Chief Executive, Cleland Sneddon, who called for her to meet with them to discuss a proposal to tackle Argyll and Bute’s depopulation crisis.

Following recent reports from the Scottish Rural Affairs Committee, Argyll and Bute is set to lose around 4% of its population by 2026 and eight other local authorities in the west of Scotland face similar challenges.

With projections forecasting a greater than average decrease in economically active adult and younger people, there are serious concerns about the sustainability and future economic growth of communities across Argyll and Bute.

In an attempt to address this crisis, MP Brendan O’Hara and Argyll and Bute Council’s Chief Executive, Cleland Sneddon are proposing to pilot a Regional Immigration Scheme to help ensure that businesses and public services in Argyll and Bute have access to skilled labour to support the economy and its ambitions for growth in the future.

The pilot scheme would adopt a flexible approach to immigration, as happens in Canada in Australia, where 

specific work visas are approved for areas of specific need, a scheme that has been proven to work.

In the face of growing depopulation concerns, Brendan O’Hara asked the Prime Minister if she would meet with him and the Chief Executive of the Council to discuss, or at the very least, examine the merits of a devolved or regionalised immigration strategy.

Commenting, Brendan O’Hara said:

“Rural Scotland is facing a serious crisis of depopulation and it is a crisis that is only going to be exacerbated by Brexit.”

“Rural communities, like Argyll and Bute rely heavily on inward migration, particularly EU citizens, who want to come to work in many of our economic sectors and it is deeply disappointing to hear that the Prime Minister is not willing to tackle this issue.”

“If the population of Argyll and Bute continues to decrease we’ll all feel the effects as fewer people means less folk spending money in our local shops, fewer kids in our schools, a shortage of staff in our hospitals and less demand for essential services – all leading to cuts in services for those of us who remain.”

“But it doesn’t have to be this way and that is why I asked the Prime Minister to meet with me and the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council to discuss the proposal that Argyll and Bute becomes a pilot for such a scheme.”

“To be snubbed at this early stage and for the PM to simply dismiss these concerns is outrageous and shows scant regard for the future welfare of this constituency.”

“I will continue to pursue this policy and make the case for devolved or regional immigration. The days of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ UK immigration policy are over. It has failed miserably to date and needs to change urgently.”