The first meeting of the restructured Uist Economic Taskforce Working Group took
place on Friday.
The forum discussed the broad breadth of challenges and opportunities facing the
economy of Uist.
The panel agreed to focus efforts in the next period around a number of “critical
Councillor Iain A MacNeil was appointed chairman of the group.
Cllr MacNeil said: "This was an important meeting that reset and refocused the efforts
of the Uist Economic Taskforce (UET).
"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.”
One main issue is housing and the need for an appropriate housing supply to facilitate
new development and to provide new houses for young people.
The next meeting will focus on housing issues. Landowners and Hebridean Housing Partnership
will be invited to the meeting to find ways to accelerate housing development in
Achieving broadband connections to all parts of Uist is another priority.
The panel will engage with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to ensure roll-out is
accelerated so no gap sites are left behind.
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 back
the development of a masterplan document to help guide and stimulate the regeneration
The taskgroup also intends to engage with the community to hear views and to understand
what islanders wanted over the next period. This will include engagement with young
people. Channels to allow these conversations will be put in place.
Councillor MacNeil, said: "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."
Uist Economic Taskforce Working Group is an informal partnership that is seeking
to work collectively to improve the economy of Uist.
The membership of the group contains the MP, MSP, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar,
Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Stòras Uibhist, North Uist Development Company,
and Third Sector Interface.