At random with Martin Laing 30.05.19

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Recruitment crisis

I have been speaking to movers and shakers in the Oban and Lorn business community who tell me they are struggling to find people to work in a number of sectors, but principally hospitality.

We reported on this last week, with BID4Oban chief executive Andy Spence and Perle Oban manager James Anderson attributing the problem in large measure to a shortage of affordable housing.

Other business people I’ve spoken to blame Brexit – in part at least – because, they tell me, there has been an exodus of the EU nationals on whom they have been relying for a considerable period.

Now, I am not about to delve into the murky waters of Brexit and its merits or demerits but if the situation is serious as I am told, something needs to be done to address it.

But what precisely?

There are hundreds of houses being built in the so-called Dunbeg corridor, the area between Dunbeg and Ganavan, and an application for 44 homes near Lonan Drive. However, not all these properties will be affordable or suitable.

And, according to Andy Spence, another problem for the hospitality sector is the low rates of pay and seasonal nature of the industry. That is something that is not going to change any time soon.

With the height of the tourist season about to start – and the town will be jam-packed next weekend for the superb Oban Live two-day music festival – businesses are right to be worried.

However, there are, I suspect, no quick fix solutions. I hope the tourism provision is not damaged too much as the visitors arrive.

Beyond description

I was intrigued – at first, anyway – to read about the Skye Ecomuseum.

This sounds interesting, I thought. It is part of the Staffin Community Trust’s work.

Then I read a description: ‘It is an outdoor museum with “no walls and a roofless sky”.’

In other words, it is a field. Emperor’s new clothes, anyone?

What do you think?

Write to me at or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4HB, or call 01631 568021.