Tha Murray MacLeòid teagmhach gun tig obraichean poblachd a ghluasad gu tuath

A-rèir choltais tha oifigearan Riaghaltas na h-Alba a’ beachdachadh air luchd-obrachdan riaghaltais a sgapadh nas fharsainge air feadh Alba – agus gun tig prìomhachas a thoirt dhan Ghàidhealtachd is dha na h-Eileanan. Faodar a bhith beò an dòchas.

Ma tha obraichean dol a ghluasad chan eil math dhaibh a bhith dìreach an Inbhir Nis

[English-language version below]

Thathas a’ tuigsinn gur i CalMac tè dhe na buidhnean air an tig coimhead an tòiseach. Gu cinnteach chaidh iomadh gearran a chur às an leth mu cho beag àite a tha iad a' toirt dha na coimhearsnachdan ris a bheil iad a’ cumail seirbheis agus cho beag a dhaoine bho na sgìrean sin a tha nan stiùirichean aca.

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Tha cuideachd barrachd is barrachd draghan a’ nochdadh mu cò dìreach a tha an urra ri dè air sgàth na tha de dhiofar bhuidhnean an-sàs san ghnothach – Riaghaltas na h-Alba, Còmhdhail na h-Alba, CMAL agus CalMac. Chuireadh sin an duine as fheàrr na thuathal.

Chan eil a bhith a’ gluasad leis fhèin na fhreagairt do chàil, ach dh’fhaodadh e sealladh às ùire agus tuigse nas fheàrr a thoirt dhaibhsan a tha a’ deànamh co-dhùnaidhean, ged nach biodh ann ach ’s gum bi iad nas fhaisge air na daoine fhèin.

Am bu chòir do luchd-stiùiridh CalMac a bhith suidhichte nas motha anns na coimhearsnachdan, seach dìreach san togalach iargalta a tha aca ann an Grianag? Tha fhios gum bu chòir, ach na cur geall air. Chan e seo a’ chiad turas a chaidh a leithid a chur air adhart agus cha do thachair e fhathast.

‘S e an cunnart eile le seo ‘s gu bheil a’ Ghàidhealtachd is na h-Eileanan dìreach a’ ciallachadh Inbhir Nis. Aon rud nach fheum prìomh bhaile na Gàidhealtachd ‘s e tuilleadh dhaoine airson cur ris na tha aca de thaighean-seinnse is àitichean-bidhe.

Chan eil an gainnead bhuidhnean poblach ann co-dhiù: HIE, Coimisean na Croitearachd, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Buidheann Nàdar Alba (SNH), a thuilleadh air Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd is Bòrd Slàinte na Gàidhealtachd, a tha a’ riaghladh sgìre cho mòr ris a’ Bheilg bho dh'oifisean sa bhaile.

Mar a tha Inbhir Nis air bòcadh sna 20 bliadhna a dh’fhalbh, tha na bailtean mu thimcheall air crìonadh, mar an fheadhainn ann an Taobh Siar Rois is Cataibh. Ann an 2001 bha 40,000 a’ fuireach ann an Inbhis Nis. Ann an 2019 chaidh sin an àirde gu 70,000 – agus e fhathast a’ fàs, le leasachaidhean taigheadais a’ nochdadh fad na h-ùine, mar Tòrr na Grèine far am bi 10,000 a’ fuireach nuair a bhios e deiseil.

Ma tha gluasad-obraichean a’ dol a chiallachadh càil , feumaidh e a bhith mu bharrachd na daoine a bhith a’ gluasad bho aon bhaile mòr gu fear eile.

Bha e furasta gu leòr dha obair an Riaghaltais agus buidhnean Riaghaltais cumail a’ dol le daoine a bhith ag obair bhon taigh. Bu chòir dha a-rèist a bhith comasach gu leor iad fhèin a stèidheachadh ann an a leithid Steòrnabhagh, Port Rìgh, Ulapul, Loch an Inbhir, Inbhir Ùige – àitichean far an dèanadh na turastalan feum mòr.

A-rithist, ged-tà, chan eil eachraidh gar fàgail dòchasach. Nuair a bhathas a’ bruidhinn mu SNH a ghluasad a-mach a Dhùn Èideann a dh’Inbhir Nis 15 bliadhna air ais, cha robh an luchd-obrach fhèin idir air a shon. B’ fheàrr leotha cus shràidean is bùthan Dhùn Èideann seach a bhith càil nas fhaisge air an fhearran nàdarrach a bha còrr aca a dhìon son ar dualchais. ‘S dòcha gun deach a’ chùis-mhagaidh seo seachad orra fhèin, ach cha deach air a h-uile duine.

‘S dòcha g’ eil brìth air cùlaibh a' ghluasaid a tha seo airson obraichean a ghluasad gu tuath agus gu bheil e dha-rìribh fìor. Ach, ‘s e an duine gòrach a chuireadh geall air.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

According to some reports, Scottish government officials have been “considering dispersing government workforce more widely across Scotland” and the Highlands and Islands will be “prioritised as a location”. Great, in as far as it goes, and good luck.

We are being led to believe that one of the government organisations to be “targeted” is CalMac, with long-standing criticism of a lack of proper representation on its management structures and a failure to listen to the communities it serves.

Relocation is no panacea, of course, but it will, given half a chance, provide those decision-makers with a fresh perspective – apart from anything else it won’t be so easy for them to retreat to the relative safety of urban obscurity, able to shut their eyes from the consequences of their actions, or more often inactions.

There will be an understandable suspicion that this is raising its head right now to serve as a fig-leaf to try and cover the chaotic performance of ferries and the growing criticism of the convoluted set-up between the Scottish government, Transport Scotland, CMAL and CalMac Ferries.

Should CalMac’s management have more of a presence in the lifeline communities they serve, other than the historical legacy of a hulking Greenock office?

Of course they should, but don’t bet on it happening in any meaningful way. It’s not the first time it’s being suggested.

The other danger with all this is that the Highlands and Islands simply means Inverness. But what the capital of the Highlands hardly needs is a new wave of well-paid government officials to further bolster its seemingly endless array of wine bars and steakhouses.

Government quangos it has aplenty: HIE, Crofting Commission, Bord na Gaidhlig, Nature Scotland (formerly SNH), as well as the main offices of Highland Council and NHS Highland which serve a region the size of Belgium from their city base.

As Inverness’s population exploded over the last 20 years, so its most distant satellite communities – like the ones dotted along the western seaboard, in Wester Ross and Sutherland – saw its working-age population haemorrhage.

In 2001 Inverness had a population of 40,000. By 2019 it was 70,000 – and still growing with housing developments being added all the time, including the new village of Tornagrain on the road to Nairn, which when completed will house 10,000 residents.

If this relocation of jobs is to mean anything, it needs to be about a lot more than getting a handful of officials to swap one urban location for another.

It was perfectly possible over the last 18 months for the business of government and quangos to continue with people working from home. It should be completely feasible and easy then for any government office or organisation to establish themselves in the likes of Stornoway, Ullapool, Portree, Lochinver and Wick – economies where their wages and presence would make a real difference.

Again, however, the precedence is not good. When the SNH relocation was being discussed some 15 years ago, there was, to put it mildly, a distinct lack of enthusiasm among those who would be affected.

Preferable to them were the cobbled streets of Auld Reekie than moving closer to the wild open lands of natural heritage they were purporting to protect. If the irony was lost on them, it was certainly not on others.

This latest relocation suggestion of civil service jobs may be well-intentioned and serious. But it would be a foolish man to bet on it ever happening.

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