The regeneration game

November 21st, 2011

The regeneration game is one Inverclyde has played for many years, and it’s only recently we have started to win.

The slow decline, the quick fixes and the sharp disappointments were replaced in recent years with a long-term model that we could sustain beyond the initial investment.

Riverside Inverclyde was born, and became a catalyst for change in our housing, our schools, our college and our leisure facilities.

And I am heartened by the number of visitors who speak with surprise and admiration at the transformation of Inverclyde.

So when the Scottish Government called a debate on regeneration this week, I was keen to make the case for continued investment and the uncertainty over its future removed.

I was heartened by the response of the SNP Government, which showed a willingness to follow the model laid down by Labour that has been proven to work.

But as ever the devil is in the detail – and the figures tell a completely different story.

The Scottish Government face difficult choices when their capital budget is cut by 25 per cent, of that there is no doubt.

But to pass on a 57 per cent decrease to Inverclyde is way out of kilter with the cuts elsewhere and, for me, is impossible to justify.

And to remove all guarantee of future funding halfway through a 10-year project sends the wrong message to the people who are committed to ensuring Inverclyde has a bright future.

They certainly tried, led by the Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil and blindly followed by the SNP backbenchers who time and time again put the party line before their communities.

In blaming the UK Government, the previous Scottish Government, the local authority and the constitution, they failed to take responsibility for their decisions.

I did win one concession from the Scottish Government, Alex Neil has agreed to meet with me over these issues and I look forward to presenting my case for Inverclyde.

I know whose side I am on, and rather than accept the denials and deflections, I will be doing my duty by fighting for investment in this community.