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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 17:32 GMT
Kintyre's wind of change
test hello test
Jim Duff
By James Duff
BBC Scotland
line
Last year it appeared the bells were tolling for the Kintyre peninsula. The area's biggest employer Jaeger finally pulled out of Campbeltown, the largest town, and the future looked bleak. What are its prospects now?

Councillor Alastair McKinlay is Campbeltown born and bred.

He remembers how the area used to be.

"The town had about 30 distilleries operational, a coal mine, a railway line that ran from the town out to the coal mine, a large fishing fleet, a shipyard that built pretty large ships," he said.

"Things have really gone down hill rapidly."

It is an area now facing population decline, and with an unemployment rate of 7.5%.

Jaeger - Campbeltown
Jaeger was the area's biggest employer
Last year it lost its biggest employer, the clothing manufacturer Jaeger - adding a further 160 to the jobless total.

Geographical isolation added to the region's woes; Kintyre was almost literally at the end of the road.

Now, no less than four hotels are up for sale - so is Kintyre on an unstoppable downward spiral?

Hotelier Peter Scogdale is upbeat. He said the "for sale" signs came from retirements, not economic necessity.

There are reasons to be optimistic, not least from the reintroduction next year of the ferry to Northern Ireland.

'Positive air'

"People can see all the things that are beginning to happen in the area.

"Shops are beginning to be sold. They are no longer being boarded up.

"There is a positive air about the place, there is no doubt about that."

Wind turbine
A wind turbine plant promises more jobs
Another reason for an upturn in hopes is a new wind turbine manufacturer which has blown into the area.

Danish firm Vestas Wind Systems is looking to double its 60-strong workforce by the end of the year.

But for many locals that's the proverbial jam tomorrow.

One said: "It is difficult to be optimistic until we see some improvements. Until the ferry goes ahead or new business comes into the town."

As the crow flies Kintyre is within commutable distance of Glasgow.

On the roads, it is a three-and-a-half hour drive.

The wind turbine maker and a ferry across the sea seem their best hopes for the future - a case perhaps of a wind and a prayer.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
James Duff reports
"Kintyre was almost literally at the end of the road"
See also:

18 Jun 01 | Scotland
Turbines bring wind of change
26 Apr 01 | Scotland
160 jobs go at Jaeger factory
30 Apr 01 | Scotland
Kintyre fights jobs setbacks
21 Feb 00 | Scotland
Ferry service axed
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