I notice with great interest comments attributed to an SIC spokesperson on rural population decline: SIC welcomes efforts to tackle rural population decline; SN, 28 October 2019).
Great news one might think in terms of a Scotland-wide recognition of a serious problem effecting remote, rural and island areas, and hopefully at last some ideas to address it but … here in Shetland things have a bit of a twist to it.
Whilst there is no doubt that generally the SIC along with all of us want to see all remote, rural and island communities being helped and supported to sustain and grow, the SIC appears to have seen this as a ‘retreat from the edges and defend Lerwick at all costs’ philosophy.
The years of destabilising rounds of rural school closures and the knock-on effects to play groups, shops, post offices etc in itself kick-started a mini mass migration into Lerwick’s ever growing overspill areas of Tingwall, Gulberwick, Scalloway, Cunningsburgh and Weisdale.
Add to this the draconian, slow and very expensive planning process/regulations and the associated huge building costs that now favour little clusters of commuter belt housing developments and the scene is set.
So like the problem of demands on the SIC to declare a climate emergency when they cannot, I really look forward to seeing how they juggle their unofficial policy of pushing folk from rural Shetland to move near Lerwick, whilst joining the COHI initiative to boost and support our own rural areas.