Shadow Finance Secretary Donald Cameron has said that new figures on High Street spending confirm that special help will be required to help towns in the Highlands and Islands recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Cameron, a Highlands and Islands MSP, said: “The five worst affected towns in Scotland are all in the Highlands, with Oban, where my constituency office is located, being the worst affected of all, with spending down by a horrendous 68%. Everything possible must be done to prevent a grim future of boarded-up shops, pubs and restaurants, with lost jobs and broken businesses."
“The Scottish Conservatives are calling for an emergency Support Our High Streets campaign and nowhere needs it more than my region which is at risk of very serious long-term economic harm."
“We need to see a laser-like focus on the economy and more serious consideration given to measures which allow for the revival of tourism."
“Ministers in Holyrood have to recognise that communities in the Highlands and Islands, already threatened by depopulation, face special challenges and will require special measures to help them recover.”
Local councillor Sir Jamie McGrigor (Oban South and the Isles) echoed Mr Cameron’s comments.
He said: “The importance of our town to the regional economy cannot be over-emphasised. Oban is the jewel in the crown of Highland tourism and is the gateway to the Hebrides."
“It also provides vital services to a far-flung rural population and serves as a hub for community life in this part of Argyll."
“While the council is doing what it can to help, the enterprising people of Oban will also need the help of the Scottish Government to secure their businesses and get through this pandemic.”
Among measures the Scottish Conservatives have said should be considered as part of an Action Plan are:
- A major "buy local" campaign organised by the Scottish Government urging Scots to back local high streets.
- Law changes relaxing rules on pavement eating and drinking.
- Temporary scrapping of parking charges to encourage shoppers to come out.
- Introduction of scrapping schemes to boost spending.
- Review of the 2 metre rule in social distancing.
A report in the figures on High Street spending can be found here: