Ardrossan could be killed-off within 10 years.
That is the chilling finding of an investigation carried out by the Scottish Agricultural College’s Rural Policy Centre, which analysed the impact of the current economic crisis.
In the Centre’s 104-page report, Dr Jane Atterton said, “Ongoing vulnerability in some settlements may lead to increasing unemployment, population out-migration and a decline in local service provision, and may place the long-term sustainability of these settlements at risk.”
Dr Atterton warned, “This has implications for the population of the town itself...in terms of the ability of people to access vital services, including employment and healthcare.”
The authoritative report lists Scotland’s ninety ‘most vulnerable towns’, with Ardrossan coming in at number 13: in even more danger is Kilwinning, at number 10. No other North Ayrshire towns appear on the list.
The index of the most vulnerable towns was compiled using four measures of economic wellbeing: the number of people of working age; the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance; the number working in the public sector; and income levels.
Dr Atterton said towns like Ardrossan and Kilwinning “faced serious challenges from public sector cutbacks and escalating economic uncertainty.”
Commenting on the report’s findings, land-reform campaigner Andy Wightman pointed out Councils could do very little to support towns, saying, “Local authorities have very little powers and virtually no financial autonomy.” Mr Wightman noted that many decisions affecting towns were taken by “centralised, unaccountable quangos and departments,” adding, “Until communities gain more autonomy and power, they will continue to be at the mercy of decisions taken in faraway places.”