Castle Toward community company chair pleas with Argyll & Bute Council to listen to locals and accept buyout plan


Without development project Dunoon will suffer, campaigners say

INVESTMENT of millions of pounds and at least 80 local jobs depend on the success of a make or break meeting on Castle Toward estate on Thursday.

Chair of community development company South Cowal Community Development Company, Alan Stewart, explained the high stakes of the proposed buyout to councillors one more time ahead of the crunch meeting on 12 February.

In an open letter published by the Dunoon Observer, Stewart said that rejecting the community’s PS850,000 offer would be a financial own-goal.

“Argyll Council will have shown potential investors that they are not welcome here. As councillors you will demonstrate that, regardless of how significant a development is on offer, you will not offer support for them.

“You will have confirmed to Highlands and Islands Enterprise that you have no conviction in its work and purpose to bring employment and investment to Argyll, despite the significant support they brought to the Community Right to Buy. You will also have demonstrated to the Scottish Government that you have little respect for the departments that encourage community ownership,” he said.

In Stewart’s view this would have a knock on effect on the local economy.

“Argyll’s population will continue its slow but inexorable decline and the average age will rise. There will be little reason for people to stay. Jobs are few on the ground and decreasing; facilities and attractions struggle to exist, with no prospect of expansion due to lack of trade. Shops will continue to close, businesses will continue to struggle and the youngsters will leave the area.”

The 2011 census recorded a 3.4 per cent decline in Argyll and Bute’s population. The National Records of Scotland has predicted a 13.5 per cent decline in future decades, at a time when Scotland’s national population is increasing.

Thirteen councillors have secured a special meeting on 12 February in support of the community buyout.

If an agreement is not reached by Friday 13 February, the preferential status for the community buyout group will be lost.

This week, CommonSpace is running an editorial campaign in support of the community’s stance and right to buy out the Castle Toward Estate for the benefit of the community. Click here to read the CommonSpace view on the situation.

And if you’re just getting into the Castle Toward story now and would like to get to grips with the basics, click here to read our explainer and bring yourself up to speed.

Picture courtesy of Joanna Paterson