Employment and the Local Economy

Update February 2015

Strachur has a diverse economy with employment in the building trade, fish farming, fish processing and a call centre in Dunoon. Tourism plays a large part with two hotels, four caravan parks, B&Bs and self catering accommodation. There is a shop, post office & filling station and two pubs. High seasonal population variations due to holiday/second homes have implications for the viability of local businesses. The district appears to provide an environment conducive to self employment which could be further developed.

February 2008

Table 5:  Economic Activity (Residents between the ages of 16 and 74 only)

Economic Position Male
Female 
Total Scottish Average
Employed full-time 133 43.8% 75

24.1%

208 33.8% 40.3%
Employed part-time 5 1.6% 57 18.3% 62 10.1% 11.1%
Self Employed 53 17.4% 27 8.7% 80 13.1% 6.6%
Unemployed 11 3.6% 7 2.3% 18 2.9% 4.0%
Full time Students 5 1.6% 7 2.3% 12 2.0% 3.0%
Part time Students 8 2.6% 3 1.0% 11 1.8% 4.3%
Permanently sick/disabled 19 6.3% 16 5.1% 35 5.7% 7.4%
Retired 66 21.7% 86 27.7% 152 24.7% 13.9%
Looking after home/family 2 0.7% 28 9.0% 30 4.9% 5.5%
Other 2 0.7% 7 2.3% 7 1.1% 3.9%
TOTAL 304 311 615

Source: 2001 census

Comment:
The striking figures from the table are the high proportion of retired people (nearly twice the national average) and the low proportion of students (about half the national average). The former, of course, will tend to drive down the latter. The figures for those in employment are nevertheless very close to the Scottish average (57% and 58%) helped by the self employed sector being twice the national average.

4.1    Local Economy and Sectors

In the past Strachur was a successful herring-fishing centre. The village's key location meant that several drove roads passed through it on the way to livestock markets down south. The 20th Century saw more trade in trees and major parts of the district came under conifer plantation with the advent of the Forestry Commission in the 1920's.

The Forestry Commission was a major employer, and the local villages grew with the settlement of forestry workers in tied cottages.  The hills which remained unplanted primarily carried hardy hill sheep breeds, initially Cheviots, then moving to the Scottish Blackfaced breed.

Employment in the 21st Century tells a different story again. There are now fewer forestry employees locally, where once there were at least 60, there is now only a handful of staff, the rest of the work being carried out by contractors, usually from outwith the area.  

Archd. Fergusson Ltd employs 24 people locally in the building trade. This family-run business was founded in 1823. There are also several other building, joinery, plumbing and electrical contractors. Many local workers travel outwith the district to work at Loch Fyne Oysters, Lighthouse Scotland Ltd (fish processing), and a call centre at Dunoon (TSC).

Tourism plays an increasingly important role in the community. There are two small hotels catering for private holidays. There is some local employment at these hotels. There are several caravan and camping sites, numerous bed and breakfast establishments, restaurants, pubs and retail outlets.

4.2    Informed estimates of employees in sectors

The following table shows the main sectors and numbers employed in them:

Table 6: Informed estimates of employees in sectors

Sector  e.g. Full-time Part-time Seasonal Total
Public Service 9 11 - 20
Retail, Hospitality and Tourism 29 34 27 90
Trades 32 1 - 33
Farming, Fish Farming, Forestry 26 5 12 43
Other Small Businesses 8 2 - 10

4.3    Local Detail for each Sector

The following list shows the number of current businesses by economic sector with the
number of full time, part time or seasonal employees detailed. 

Table 7: Local Detail for each Sector

Public services
Name
Full-time staff
Part-time staff
Seasonal staff
Primary School
5
5
-
Playgroup/Child Care
3
1
-
Health Centre
2
4
-
RUN Office
-
1
-
Retail Outlet
Name
Full-time
Part-time
Seasonal staff
PO/shop St Catherines
1
1
0
PO/Bay Cottage Restaurant Strachur
4
5
0
Strachur Filling Station
1
4
1
Hotels, Restaurants, and Pubs
Name
Full-time staff
Part-time staff
Seasonal staff
Inver Cottage Restaurant
6
12
All staff are seasonal – open May to October
Clachan Bar
2
3
0
PO/Bay Cottage Restaurant Strachur
See above
See above
-
Creggans Inn
10
6
7
Whistlefield Inn
5
3
1
Bed and Breakfasts and Self-Catering It is difficult to estimate the numbers working in these establishments, but the Steering Group considers that they will account for many of the self employed sector.
Name Location
Thistle House St Catherines
Ardchyline Holiday Cottages St Catherines
Bay Cottage Strachur
Carraway Strachur
Smiddy Cottage Strachur
Rosehill Cottage Strachur
March Cottage Strachur
Kenmore Strachur
Strachur Estate Cottages Strachur
Barnacarry Strathlachlan
Castle Lachlan Strathlachlan
Springburn Strathlachlan
Caravan Parks
Name Location
St Catherines Caravan Park St Catherines
Eas-mor Chalet Site Strathlachlan
Stuckreoch Caravan Park Strathlachlan
Strathlachlan Caravan Park Strathlachlan
Trades and Other Local Businesses
Name
Full-time staff
Part-time staff
Seasonal staff
Archibald Fergusson Ltd. (builder)
26
1
0
McKellar & Paterson
2
0
0
Argyll Sawmills
7
-
-
Haulage Companies
6
-
-
Otter Ferry Sea Fish
6
0
-

Source: Strachur District Profile 2007 & Strachur and Strathlachlan Community website

4.4    Small Businesses

There are a number of independent self-employed/small businesses including:

Electrician Art Studios/Galleries
Gardening Crafts
General Building Plumbing
Joinery Carpets and Removals
Landscaping IT/Website development
Walking Holiday firm

4.5    Land Use/ Farms

There are 7 extensive hill sheep farms in the Strachur District area, some carrying suckler herds as well. This number has fallen over the last 30 years, as farming incomes have fallen in relative terms, in line with changes in the situation of local estates.

The low-lying and hill areas of Strachur Estate are being farmed on a contract basis by a neighbouring farmer, who manages the land along with his own. This is a pattern repeated across Argyll. The Estate in the past 30 years has supported 4 farms - The Home Farm, Inverglen, Strachurmore and Glensluain with a manager, shepherds, a tractorman and their families. Much of the Glensluain hill was planted with conifers around 25 years ago, and every farm area is now incorporated into the contract farming area as mentioned above.

The majority of the rest of the land in the district is under forestation, with a current plan of felling and ultimately replanting. Through consultation with the Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority a more imaginative and varied landscape is emerging, through a change in policy to include broken planting patterns and greater percentages of hardwood trees in forest plantations.

There has been a noticeable increase in tree scrub and bracken encroachment over the past ten years in areas previously clear of such vegetation. This could partly be ascribed to reduced livestock grazing pressure, as sheep and cattle numbers have reduced in recent years, and generally less intensive farming. Generally milder and wetter weather may also have encouraged stronger growth.

Strategic Issues

The high seasonal variations in population from the large numbers of holiday/second homes has implications for the viability of local businesses due to short seasons.

The district appears to provide an environment conducive to self employment which could be further developed.

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