Working at the foundations to boost economy in Uists

The taskforce highlighted the lack of appropriate housing in the Uists as a concern.
The taskforce highlighted the lack of appropriate housing in the Uists as a concern.

The Uist Economic Taskforce Working Group (UET) is an informal partnership that is seeking to work collectively to improve the economy of Uist.

Following a recent restructuring, the first meeting of the Taskforce took place on Friday, when Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Councillor Iain A. MacNeil was appointed as Chairman of the Group.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr. MacNeil said: “This was an important meeting that reset and refocused the efforts of the Uist Economic Taskforce (UET).

“We discussed the broad breadth of challenges and opportunities facing the economy of Uist and have agreed to focus efforts in the next period around a number of critical activities.

“In our discussion we were clear that Uist is an excellent place to live, work and bring up a family.

“In Uist we have a first class cultural and environmental heritage. Our community cohesion is second to none and we have some truly excellent community facilities.

“We do have real challenges, but I think it is important that we acknowledge and celebrate what is so special about Uist and that we aren’t shy in marketing these special attributes, both within the islands and further afield.

“We discussed housing and the need for an appropriate housing supply to facilitate new development and to provide new houses for young people.

“At our next meeting we will be focusing on housing issues and will be asking landowners and Hebridean Housing Partnership to the meeting to find ways to accelerate housing development in Uist.”

At the meeting it was also agreed to focus on ensuring broadband connectivity to all parts of Uist will be achieved.

It was agreed to engage with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Reaching 100% programme to ensure roll-out is accelerated and that no gap sites are allowed to develop in Uist.

UET also agreed to support the project team developing the Spaceport project; to explore future uses for any redundant elements at the West Camp facility and to support the development of a Masterplan document to help guide and stimulate the regeneration of Balivanich.

UET will also seek to engage with the community to hear people’s views and to understand what people want to see over the next period.

This will include engagement with young people.

Channels to allow these conversations will be put in place.

Councillor MacNeil, added “At the meeting we discussed a wide breadth of potential activity. There are a many potential projects and issues, but there was agreement that focussing on five critical areas of activity, in the short-term, offers the most appropriate way forward.

“From my perspective it is good to get UET repositioned and get strong agreement around an initial set of activities.

“We will be working hard on these issues over the next period and I look forward to good progress being made.”