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Weekly update, 27th January 2019

SpaceHub Sutherland:

The SHS team were in Melness yesterday (Thursday), continuing its series of engagement events with the local community. The drop-in event was in Melness Village Hall and had the additional benefit of personnel from Lockheed Martin being present to help answer questions on the project. The team are also in the process of confirming arrangements with the Kyle Community Centre in Tongue to have a weekly presence in the area on Wednesdays between 1000 to 1300 hrs to allow people to meet with the project team.  Two members are due to be at the Centre from Wednesday 6th February and would welcome anyone with a question to pop in and meet. As I mentioned last week, the project team have now created a web presence at which will be a central resource for information about the project as it progresses.

An artistist impression of the proposed Spaceport on the Moine, north Sutherland (image courtesy Perfect Circle PV)

Enabling activities:

I’m delighted that both HIE and Dounreay have committed to recruiting a new CNSRP Manager to carry forward the work of the Partnership. The role brought many challenges, but is probably one of the most exciting and rewarding ones I could have imagined holding. With an ambitious programme of work ahead, the new post will provide a similar level of opportunity, so it is good to see the role being advertised today (Friday) with an application deadline date of 20th February. More details and application form is at

This week our local press covered the very disappointing news that Ackergill Tower will not reopen as a hotel following confirmation of its purchase by a private individual who has applied for planning permission to convert the site into a private home. Our colleagues in Skills Development Scotland initiated a PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) response before Christmas when news first reached us of staff contracts being terminated. The annual multi-agency “Jobs and How To Get Them” event will be held in North Highland College in Thurso on Saturday 9th February (10am-2pm) under the leadership of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, and although I understand that some Ackergill staff have already secured alternative employment we are making efforts to identify any other affected staff and let them know of the event. To find out more about some of the exhibitors visit

As I mentioned last week, a “Pitching Skills” workshop is coming to Caithness on 21st February. This is a session not just for those in “dragon’s den” situations, but for anyone who works in a business and does any sort of public or business-to-business speaking. Led by Maryanne Johnston, who has significant pitching/ presentation skills experience, it is being delivered through the Entrepreneurial Academy developed by HIE. To find out more, and to book a place see  I also mentioned last week that as we get closer to 29th March, the date on which the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU, we will continue to work with businesses in the area to ensure maximum awareness of the need to plan for Brexit. HIE has an excellent self-assessment tool for businesses, together with a range of advice and support, all available at and we are looking forward to taking part on March 1st in the business breakfast event on Brexit, which is being run by Caithness Chamber of Commerce in its role as a Europe Direct Information Centre. You can book to attend this event at


As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • A final reminder that HIE is currently advertising for a full-time Senior Development Manager to work as part of our Strengthening Communities team in Caithness and Sutherland! The advert has a closing date of this Sunday (3rd February). More details and application at
  • This Sunday (3rd) is also the deadline for applications for the post of project administrator to support the work associated with the Space Hub Sutherland project. The post is advertised with a potential base in either Thurso or Inverness. As with the opportunity above, application details are at
  • Finally, it was great to hear that the Board of NHS Highland this week unanimously passed the plans for the Health and Social Care Redesign for Caithness. The process of mapping out plans and engaging with communities in the area has been a long and at times troublesome one, but the decision now means the project can now go forward into detailed discussion. You can read the proposals outlined to the Board at