Argyll and Bute Council will submit a multi-million pound funding bid to the UK and Scottish Governments that would see investment in areas as wide ranging as transport, broadband, education and market-leading business innovation.
The bid comprises sixteen different projects that would bring together local and national organisations, as well as public and private sector agencies, to transform Argyll’s economy for local and national benefit.
The bid was agreed at today’s special meeting of full Council.
Council Leader, Councillor Aileen Morton said:
“Argyll has natural resources that could deliver a great future for Argyll itself, and be an even greater driver for growth in the UK and Scottish economies.
Investment could see Argyll lead the world in business sectors such as marine science. It could develop key routes to market for our world-renowned food and drink produce. It could bring the people and talent we need for our future.
The more support Argyll gets from the UK and Scottish Governments, the more Argyll can thrive and in turn support the UK and Scottish economies.
We’ve reached a significant milestone today in unanimously agreeing this ambitious bid.
Seeking a rural growth deal is all about seeking fair treatment for Argyll, to deliver long-term benefit for Argyll, Scotland and the UK.”
The bid’s projects are wide-ranging. They include for example improving road and air transport links between Argyll and the central belt of Scotland; expanding broadband availability to improve healthcare services and bolster the economy; providing infrastructure and training to support business innovation; and seeking policy change to open up opportunities for growth.
Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Policy Lead for Strategic Finance and Capital Regeneration, said:
“Putting a bid together is about identifying where investment would provide the biggest catalyst for change; and to have a chance of securing funding, projects must tie in with UK and Scottish Government priorities. A deal can’t be about funding day-to-day services; a deal is about delivering sustainable, economic growth.
To develop our bid, the council has spoken extensively with partner organisations in and outwith Argyll; we have brought key people together to consider and agree solutions to issues; and we have listened to the views of the public.
The bid we have agreed today is ambitious. It offers benefit across Argyll.
Although individual projects could change through negotiations, this bid demonstrates the great potential Argyll provides for local and wider economic success.”
The full list of projects is set out in the report to Council: http://bit.ly/2yeYMc3
Examples of projects
A number of projects are about connecting Argyll’s high value business sectors with national and international markets, and Argyll’s economic successes with the UK and Scottish Government’s priorities. For example:
Improving transport links to and from the central belt by developing Oban Airport, and progressing improvements to key roads such as the A83 and A85.
Improving the health care of local people through increased broadband availability, which would also support economic growth right across the region
Further developing key Argyll industries such as aquaculture and marine science excellence, and piloting food and drink expansion on Bute.
Other projects focus on attracting skills and training opportunities to match local business needs, as well as new residents and visitors. For example:
Developing business accommodation in Mid-Argyll
Providing education opportunities that support careers in Argyll-based business sectors
Creating a business hub in Helensburgh to deliver local economy benefit from the MOD’s emerging centre of excellence in engineering.
Four projects are about growing the economy by building on what is already effective, and making more of our natural and built heritage. These projects would see investment in:
Infrastructure to accelerate marine industry growth
Marine tourism and Argyll as Scotland’s Adventure Coast
Piloting low-cost, low-carbon energy production on Islay.
The final proposal is based on policy or fiscal changes that would open-up opportunities for economic growth. For example:
Investigating the potential to relocate some government funded departments to Argyll
Using the £700,000 required from Argyll and Bute Council as a national apprenticeship levy, to fund local apprenticeships.