Tourism Food & Drink:
• CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) this week published a baseline report on the economic impact of the North Coast 500 route which covers the whole of the north mainland. The report highlights the impact of the route’s global profile, and suggests that 200 new jobs could be created as a result. CNSRP partners have agreed that the NC500 is a key opportunity for the Caithness/ north Sutherland area over the next three years, and we are currently finalising a scope of work to more clearly define where partners might best add value. A copy of the report is available to view at http://www.hie.co.uk/regional-information/economic-reports-and-research/archive/nc500-economic-baseline-study.html and you can also read the recent Scottish Provincial Press supplement on the NC500, which includes concepts for branding the Far North Rail line, at http://edition.pagesuite.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=0fef43d2-25fd-48ac-8a12-70faa1e715a7
• The Highland & Moray Fisheries Local Action Group has awarded funding to Scrabster Harbour Trust to allow the development of additional pontoon spaces at Scrabster harbour, to help accommodate growing demand for leisure and fisheries berthing space. More at http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/10253/flag_fund_success_for_scrabster_and_lossiemouth
• Local food & drink companies are being invited to register for this year’s “Showcasing Scotland” event, which takes place at Gleneagles on 3rd and 4th October. The event – which is supported by CNSRP partners HIE and Scottish Government – includes a major “meet the buyer” element, which last year attracted over 130 buyers from across the globe, who did business with around 100 Scottish companies. The deadline for registering is next Friday (30th June) and pre-event workshops will be held for attending companies. To find out more visit http://www.showcasingscotland.com/register/
• Caithness Transport Forum met last week, and discussed a number of transport-related issues affecting the area. A key theme from the meeting was the uncertainty that has affected public transport routes in the north over previous 12 months, with performance issues on the far north rail line and the re-tendering of Council-supported bus services; the Dounreay bus contract re-tender; and the significant changes to school timetables. It was agreed that a period of stability in terms of timetabling would have a positive impact, and that operators and the Transport Forum could help to publicise what it was hoped would be a settled timetable across services.
• It was good to see pupils from a Wick primary school taking part in an innovative workshop in Caithness General Hospital this week. Led by NHS Highland staff the event brought to life the skills being used every day in the hospital, and supports the ongoing promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) skills to young people in the area. As I have previously highlighted the development of a “Newton Room” in Caithness will continue to add momentum to this process. It was also encouraging to see a remarkable fifth successive year of Wick High School representation at this year’s Apps for Good Finals in London this week. “Teen Health” did not come home with the main prize in its category, but teacher Chris Aitken must be very proud of the school’s UK-wide reputation for digital innovation.
As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:
• Last weekend I gave a presentation on ”economic transition in the Dounreay travel-to-work area” at the Highlands & Islands Conference of the STUC, at the kind invitation of John Deighan (Thurso and Wick Trades Council).The keynote addresses at the event were from Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy. I was delighted to take thoughtful questions from delegates, and even more encouraged by the supportive comments after the presentation, including requests to deliver the presentation to other TU groupings in the Highlands. The Thurso & Wick Trades Council has been a member of the CNSRP Advisory Board since its inception, and we continue to work with TU colleagues, particularly where the ongoing decommissioning programme at Dounreay brings workforce change.
• The Scottish Government this week published its Enterprise and Skills Review – Phase 2 report. The review contains recommendations on how public sector support and activity through HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council and others can continue to deliver enhanced outcomes. A summary report, together with individual reports on key areas of work, can be accessed at https://beta.gov.scot/publications/enterprise-skills-review-report-phase-2/