Minister praises 'inspirational' work by communities in Scotland

Meeting with Scottish businesses, community groups and local partners in the west of Scotland, Minister John Lamont saw UK Government investment in action

Boosting the economy and supporting communities was the purpose of the trip which included Mull, Arran and the mainland - the council areas for which are receiving more than £100 million in UK Government levelling up funding.

The Minister said:

"It was absolutely inspirational to see talented and committed people making the most of funding from the UK Government. We want rural communities across Scotland to thrive, and we are acutely aware that island communities face particular challenges. 

"Islanders are resourceful and dedicated, however, and rise magnificently to those challenges. I am proud we are helping them. Rich in natural resources, our islands are presented with great opportunities to maximise – in a sustainable way – their potential and make themselves a genuine option for young people looking to raise families.

"On Mull, it was very special to be out on a flat-calm Loch Spelve talking to family-run Inverlussa Mussels, awarded £200,000 from our UK Seafood Fund to help upgrade their facilities with renewable energy supply.

"Tobermory Harbour Association has a tremendous track record and there’s clearly more to come with the transformation of the Aros waterfront, while Mull and Iona Community Trust are busy with everything from island transport to affordable home building, and keeping Ulva primary school open.

"And it was a delight to revel in the community spirit of Arran at the Lochranza Country Inn, which received £300,000 UK Government funding to buy out the last remaining pub in the village. 

"We are giving people financial security by halving inflation and growing the economy to create better paid jobs and opportunity right across the country, while reducing debt so that we can secure the future of public services.

"We are investing more than £2.4 billion to level up all areas of Scotland, with Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire receiving £31 million and £72 million respectively. This includes £23.4 million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to improve connectivity in North Ayrshire with upgrades to the B174. Travelling this road, it was obvious why it is crying out for improvement and here again, the UK Government has stepped up."

Councillor Alan Hill, Cabinet Member for Communities and Islands at North Ayrshire Council, said:

"We are hugely ambitious for North Ayrshire as the minister has seen during his time here. He has seen first hand some of the major projects we are delivering in every part of North Ayrshire, such as our ground-breaking Islands Plans for Arran and Cumbrae, as well as major capital projects on the mainland, such as the council-owned solar PV farms, the acclaimed Lochshore Hub in Kilbirnie and the projects underpinned by the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

"We’re proud of the progress we are continuing to make to ensure North Ayrshire is innovative, resilient and inclusive."

Local charity the North Arran Community Benefit Society, owners of the island’s Lochranza Country Inn, said:

"The Community Ownership Fund has been essential for reopening Lochranza Country Inn. Renovations have been started, vitals repairs done and broken equipment replaced to bring the building up to standard and future-proof it for future generations. We have focused, where possible, on using the skills of the trades on Arran, balancing this with seeking services from the mainland where necessary. 

"Although there have been many challenges, particularly providing suitable staff accommodation, the grant has allowed the changes necessary for a sustainable business and a huge benefit to local people. Thanks to the Community Ownership Fund, and to the Scottish Land Fund, which funded the purchase of the property, this vital resource is available again for the community."

Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland