New Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) research ranks 90 of Scotland’s towns according to their vulnerability to downturn associated with current economic and social change - and Banchory is among the least vulnerable.
Published in the SAC Rural Policy Centre’s new report ‘Rural Scotland in Focus 2012’, the Index suggests that a cluster of vulnerable places exists in the south, and particularly the south west, of Scotland – the index ranks Campbeltown and Dunoon in Argyll & Bute as the most vulnerable places of those analysed.
In contrast, settlements in Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross and the Lothians appear to be less vulnerable.
In particular, places located relatively close to large urban areas, such as Newburgh, Blackburn and Banchory in Aberdeenshire and Coupar Angus in Perth and Kinross, in particular demonstrate lower vulnerability.
Dr Jane Atterton of SAC’s Rural Policy Centre (RPC) said: “The Vulnerability Index provides a means of analysing how current economic and social changes, particularly public sector cuts, unemployment rates and population ageing, are affecting the vulnerability of places in different locations and of different sizes. People living in settlements in accessible rural areas, such as Newburgh, can more easily find alternative employment if they lose their public sector job, for example, and are less likely to be left relying on a low income or unemployed.
“In contrast, remote settlements offer a more limited choice of employment, with many relying on public sector jobs or a declining industrial base. Continuing vulnerability may lead to a decline in service provision and the out-migration of the local population, putting the future sustainability of places such as Campbeltown and Dunoon at risk.”
Dr Atterton believes the Index provides a starting point for further socio-economic analysis of Scotland’s towns, which are in need of targeted funding and policy measures to help them thrive.
She said: “Towns play a vital role in Scotland’s rural and regional development, but they have not received substantial policy recognition, leaving them at risk of falling into a gap between urban and rural policies.
”While the Vulnerability Index offers a useful picture of which towns are vulnerable and which are vibrant, more in-depth work must now be done to understand the socio-economic functions of different places and the characteristics of the wider region in which they are located. This will help to explain each settlement’s vulnerability in more detail, so that appropriate funding and policy measures can be targeted to groups of places with particular characteristics.”