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The Arran Recovery Group (ARG) is a voluntary group of individuals who represent a number of organisations on Arran which includes Health and Social Care Partnership, Community Council, Visit Arran, Auchrannie, Taste of Arran, Eco Savvy, Arran Development Trust, North Ayrshire Council support, Local Councillor, Arran High School, Arran Community Voluntary Service, Arran Ferry Committee, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Arran Digital Blacksmith Arran Economic Group.
Its aim is to develop a recovery plan dealing with community, environment and the economy at its heart by consultation with the relevant bodies and the community on Arran.
The group meet weekly and publish their progress, aims and challenges on their website. Below is the summary of their Recovery Plan as published on their website at www.arranrecoverygroup.co.uk on Friday July 3, 2020.
Arran Covid-19 Recovery Plan Summary: (Based on SG Route Map)
Summary: The ASK is simple, we want the same right to survive, community and business , as the rest of Scotland. No less, no more.
Critical Issues: Credibility of Islands Bill determined by response:
1 Tourism contributed £69m and 1516 jobs 2019. Need minimum of 50 per cent 2019 capacity from July to deliver best cast £32m for 2020.
2 Auchrannie in Employee Consultation process while continuing to seek increased ferry capacity and Government support. Indicative of all business.
3 Government support package that recognises tourism in general and islands in particular as a special case requiring additional support.
Outcomes from 1,2 and 3 determines the size for Island Survival Plan.
Critical Path: Ferry capacity impact on business and civil rights.
CalMac will issue an enhanced summer schedule with capacity limitation based on social distancing (SD). Additional good news on SD this week. Still no numbers, so no change to last week’s status. That is; No viable tourism in 2020 and restricted travel for the local community. The situation has improved but we need the numbers and a prioritisation process. In addition, we need passenger ferry capacity at a minimum of 50 per cent of the 2019 passenger levels from July onward. This assumes there will be a prioritisation process for: essential workers, locals, visiting friends and family, and staying visitors, in that order. Same commercial traffic as 2019.
We are currently 55 per cent behind last years tourist revenue with the balance depending upon achieving the requested capacity and a booking/ticketing system, both at best, uncertain. In parallel, we need Government, at all levels, to urgently establish an ‘Island Survival Plan’. The infrastructure that supports this £69m industry employing 1516 workers will not survive further significant constraint.
The Route Map to recovery operates on the island but constraints do not allow most island business to operate, in any practical sense. If not urgently addressed, this contravenes the spirit and legal framework of the Islands Bill.
Who participated in the Arran Recovery Group?
Health and Social Care Partnership, Community Council, Visit Arran, Auchrannie, Taste of Arran, Eco Savvy, Arran Development Trust, North Ayrshire Council support, Local Councillor, Arran High School, Arran Community Voluntary Service, Arran Ferry Committee, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Arran Digital Blacksmith Arran Economic Group.
Sources of information:
1) Knowledge from all of the above.
2) STEAM report for Arran 2019.
2) CalMac actual capacity data for 2019.
3) Questionnaire May/June 2020; 900 respondents or 20 per cent of the population.
Summary Information on the plan:
COVID-19 has effectively closed travel and tourism. Restrictions will not be removed before a vaccine is available (12 months plus). Tourist revenue is the primary income for Arran and will be reduced by at least 80 per cent for this fiscal year.
Develop a Recovery Plan which balances the three main strands of island life, community, environment and economy through each stage of recovery, underpinned by national and local HSCP guidance. The Plan must show how the community will be safe, responsible and sustainable, while managing risk.
The Recovery Plan will be informed by consultation with the community on Arran. The objective being to achieve the widest possible consensus.
Business dilemma: (Social distancing will reduce ferry and business capacity)
Community expenditure cannot support most island business. Current ferry capacity means there will be No viable tourism in 2020. Unless capacity and the Government support package changes dramatically, Businesses have to decide if they can afford to borrow to survive or stop trading.
Ferry capacity is the primary constraint and will influence most reset actions.
Restart suggestions: Scottish Government Route Map, used unless island dispensation given. Dates are indicative only. ‘Reset’ must be achieved.
May/June: Arran for Arran: Current business and garden centres, refuse recycling , road and path works,
Social: As is plus golfing, fishing, boating, bowls.
July: Arran to mainland: Free movement of islanders in line with Route Map.
Mid July/August: Visitors to Arran: (Priorities developed with more info.)
VFF/Self -catering/second homeowners.
Hotels , restaurants, B&B’s and guest houses
Campsites:(Need to assess the impacts of caravans/campervans on capacity
No day trippers this year. (Exception of visiting friends and family.)