Our towns at risk

GIRVAN is the third most deprived small town in Scotland.

That’s the conclusion of a shock report published this week which also highlights Ayr and Maybole as 7th and 8th on a list of 90 of the most vulnerable towns in the country.

The Rural Scotland in Focus Report 2012 was published by the Scottish Agricultural College’s Rural Policy Centre and it makes uncomfortable reading for everyone living in the south west, confirming what many have long believed – that they live amongst a cluster of remote small towns which are at risk of “dying”.

Stranraer is also on the list in 4th place with Cumnock in East Ayrshire and Kilwinning in North Ayrshire also in the top ten.

Local politicians of all parties have described the report as “disappointing” - one of them saying that it is a “wake-up call” for both national and local government. But many have pointed to the current regeneration proposals for Girvan and the surrounding area as providing hope for the future.

The authors of the 104 page report used four measures of economic well-being in compiling it.

These were; the number of people of working age, the number claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance, the number working in the public sector, and income deprivation levels.

And one of the report’s authors, Dr Jane Atterton, says that some communities on the list could die out altogether.

She says in the report that ongoing vulnerability in some settlements could lead to rising unemployment, more people leaving these areas and a decline in local service provision placing their long-term sustainability at risk. The report also suggests that Scotland’s remote small towns are more vulnerable than its rural areas and it calls for targeted funding and policy measures for them.

More comment and local reaction in this week’s Carrick Gazette.