It only has a population of around 8,500.
But Oban is bidding to become Scotland’s smallest newest city – and one of the UK’s.
As part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations next year, the UK Government has launched civic competitions which include granting ‘city status’ in 2022.
Today Argyll and Bute Council agreed to bid for Oban to join the UK’s list of cities – with Moray Council also vying for Elgin to be officially recognised.
Council leader Robin Currie said: “We have to be ambitious for Argyll and Bute. We have to consider all opportunities to grow our economy.
“It’s rare that these competitions are available to enter, so it’s important that we look at how they could benefit the area. Securing city status, and beating competition from elsewhere, would be about everyone who wants to see the area succeed getting involved.”
The council believe city status for Oban would create opportunities for the whole region, supporting economic recovery by attracting investment, jobs and population.
Mr Currie added: “Competing for the title, with other places across the UK, is about showcasing that this is a great place to live, work and invest. It’s about attracting the people, skills and investment the area needs for long-term success. I would encourage everyone to get involved in helping Oban, and Argyll and Bute, win.”
Consultations will be held to shape the final application, and locals are encouraged to share their support or give comments via the council’s website.
A report to the committee highlighted reasons for Oban bringing the highest chance of success for Argyll and Bute, including:
- Its strategically important position on the west coast independent of other cities – Oban is a key transport hub, with one of the busiest ferry ports in the UK, and is an established gateway to a number of island communities
- It is a university town with more than 1,000 students, including those at the world-renowned Scottish Association for Marine Science institute.
- It has a growing population and an expanding and diversifying economy
- It is an important tourist hub – during the peak summer months, Oban’s population grows from 8,500 to 25,000.
Is Oban the next UK City of Culture?
The UK Government also announced a competition for UK City of Culture 2029.
For the first time the city of culture competition is not restricted to cities but can be entered by a place, making Argyll and Bute eligible.
The council today also agreed to develop a bid for Argyll and Bute as UK City of Culture 2029.
Mr Currie added: “This is all about bringing opportunities for growth and success to Argyll and Bute. This area is rich in culture and heritage, and is the cradle of the Gaelic language. This makes Argyll and Bute a strong candidate for UK City of Culture.”