Plans in place to offset population decline
CAITHNESS has "a lot of positive measures in place" to help offset a projected decline in its population.
That is the view expressed by local Highland councillors this week at a meeting of the Caithness Committee in Wick. Councillors agreed to give their backing to help promote the far north as a place to live, a place to learn, a place to thrive and a welcoming place.
It was pointed out the area has had substantial private and public investment recently, including major developments at Wick and Scrabster harbours, new educational and community facilities and two proposed new health hubs for Wick and Thurso.
Wick and East Caithness Highland councillor, Raymond Bremner, was upbeat about what is going on in the county.
"There are a lot of positive measures in place as we try to reduce the population decline as much as possible. Sometimes you would think this is a barren land with no hope for our youth. There are communities in Caithness where the population is increasing and new houses are going up. It is not all doom and gloom but we have got to get the balance right," he said at Wednesday's meeting in the town hall.
Committee chairman, Matthew Reiss, agreed: "It is quite a complex picture but there are quite a few grounds for optimism," he said.
His Thurso and northwest Caithness colleague, Karl Rosie, took a similar view. "There are huge opportunities to focus on here," he said.
Civic leader Willie Mackay stressed the estimated 20 per cent decline in the local population was a figure calculated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise if nothing was done to address the economic issues after the decommissioning of the Dounreay nuclear site.
"That would be the figure if we stand still but we are not going to stand still," he said.
Thurso councillor, Donnie Mackay, would like to see Highland Council offering more apprenticeships.
"That is the only way to encourage young people to stay in the county," he stated.
Wick and east Caithness councillor, Nicola Sinclair, said "a collective community spirit" could help the area as it faces up to challenges in the wake of the rundown at Dounreay.