Hot Spots and Not Spots: Addressing Infrastructure and Service Provision through Combined Approaches in Rural Scotland
There is widespread acceptance that the absence or presence of infrastructure and services in rural areas can lead to cycles of decline or resilience in these localities. It is also accepted that in remoter areas, population sparsity leads to a higher unit cost for delivery of services and infrastructure, and that private sector providers do not find such areas attractive for investment. At the same time, there is a reduction in spending capability within the public sector due to the significant impact of economic crisis on their resource base, affecting provision of services. How are these seemingly intractable challenges being addressed? Using an interpretive policy analysis approach  and narrative tools, the storyline of policy statements, approaches and policies in Scotland is presented and discussed, within a wider European setting. This is complemented by a brief presentation of public-private and third sector initiatives in response to service and infrastructure challenges in rural Scotland. The paper concludes with the argument that we are facing two alternatives—the current “hot spots” and “not spots” pattern of provision, where the fittest survive, or further shifts towards strategic, cross-sectoral investment which gives scope for more cohesive development for rural communities.
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