September 19th, 2011
Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Duncan McNeil has expressed his disappointment that Finance Secretary John Swinney failed again to give assurances about future funding for Riverside Inverclyde.
Mr McNeil had asked the minister during a debate on enterprise zones whether Inverclyde would be considered and would they complement the existing work for URCs.
The Scottish Government slashed Riverside Inverclyde’s budget by 60 per cent earlier this year and has failed to give any commitment to future funding despite only being half way through a 10-year project.
He now fears Inverclyde could face another round of regeneration cuts.
Mr McNeil said: “This project is vital to our future economic prospects and has been a real concern that the Scottish Government does not share our ambitions for Inverclyde.
“With the shift to enterprise zones in other parts of the country, I would have hoped that John Swinney would have assured us this would have no impact on our plans and given Inverclyde a firm commitment over the future of our regeneration plans.
“In Inverclyde, we remember the last enterprise zone introduced by the Thatcher government, and it had not last impact as unscrupulous companies moved on after the subsidy ran out.”
“Rather than repeat the mistakes of the past, the Scottish Government should be supporting regeneration projects that are working for communities like Inverclyde.”
Duncan McNeil (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Lab): I would expect a place such as Inverclyde to be high on the cabinet secretary’s priority list. Can he assure us that the enterprise zone work that the Government is going to carry out will be in addition to; supportive of and complementary to the existing work of the urban regeneration companies in such areas rather than to its detriment?
John Swinney: All the approaches that we have had about enterprise zones will be assessed dispassionately to determine how the maximum economic impact can be achieved. Support is being directed to different parts of the country in different ways. Mr McNeil has asked questions about urban regeneration company issues on a number of occasions in the past. I point out, in passing, that he was unable to support the provisions in the budget that supported the urban regeneration company in Inverclyde, but that is history. I assure him that the Government’s approach will be to look dispassionately at the opportunities to strengthen economic impact in all parts of the country.