17th August, 2015
Time for action
In the depths of the recession as a community we argued that Inverclyde would need greater support from the Scottish Government compared to other areas. Our small manufacturing base coupled with depopulation put us in afar more vulnerable position.
When I made this case at the time to Finance Secretary John Swinney he acknowledged the problem. However, instead of taking positive action to support Inverclyde, he subsequently slashed our urban regeneration budget and cut local college funding.
A report published last week by the Industrial Communities Alliance has validated the concerns we raised. Its research shows that since the recession, economic upturn has been weaker in the old industrial towns like Inverclyde when compared to other parts of Britain.
Growth in private sector employment has lagged behind. Average weekly earnings are over one-hundred pounds less. The claimant count is higher. And while jobs have been created many are part-time.
Despite the fact that Inverclyde is still playing catch up with other places in the UK, there has recently been some cause for optimism.
Ferguson’s Shipyard has sprung back to life. The Greenock Telegraph reported over a week ago that Peel Ports has launched a marketing campaign to attract jobs and investment. And to top it off, leading entrepreneur Jim McColl confirmed that he has scoped out Inchgreen Drydock as a potential shipping hub.
As I said in this column previously, we have a real opportunity here to bring manufacturing back to the Lower Clyde. This is why I held a jobs summit with Inverclyde’s political leaders to drive things forward.
With its substantial resources, finances and negotiating power the Scottish Government has a very important role to play in this process too. Let’s not make the same mistakes of the past. Let’s take positive action to realise Inverclyde’s potential.