Page last updated at 07:40 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 08:40 UK

Plea over island with no under-7s

Scalpay (Pic courtesy of Undiscovered Scotland)
The latest figures show Scalpay had a population of more than 320

An island councillor has called for government action to regenerate peripheral areas of the Western Isles.

Catherine Macdonald's call came after it emerged that there were now no children under the age of seven on the island of Scalpay.

The situation is mirrored in other outlying areas of the islands where the number of children and young families is shrinking.

Cllr Macdonald said a lack of jobs and affordable housing was to blame.

The latest figures, in 2001, showed Scalpay had a population of more than 320.

'Have to move'

The island was linked to Harris with a bridge in 1997, but that has not stemmed the decline in young families with children living there.

Councillor Catherine Macdonald said that a lack of work and the shortage of affordable housing encouraged young families to move closer to Stornoway, or to the mainland.

"Even if there is work and jobs come up, if there isn't housing, people are going to have to move to where they can find a flat or a house," she said.

She said the situation was being repeated in other peripheral island areas and that this meant losing schools, post offices and other services.

She called for united action from both the Scottish and UK governments to create employment in outlying island areas to help regenerate shrinking communities.

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