Falkirk edges closer to £52m windfall

The award would see a variety of schemes - including long-awaited improvements to the dangerous Avon Gorge - finally get off the drawing board
The award would see a variety of schemes - including long-awaited improvements to the dangerous Avon Gorge - finally get off the drawing board
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A multi-million pound plan to kick-start an industrial building boom which could bring 5000 jobs to Falkirk district is a step closer.

Falkirk Council’s bold bid to fund an ambitious investment programme to boost the area using the Tax Incremental Finance ‘borrow now, pay back later’ scheme has been given the go-ahead to move forward by the Scottish Government.

It is one of three projects to be given the green light by the Scottish Futures Trust and means a significant hurdle to making the dream a reality has been cleared.

Council bosses will now work closely with the trust to develop a full business case to borrow £52 million and spend it preparing gap sites across Falkirk and Grangemouth for new business as part of an investment in infrastructure worth over £160 million.

It is claimed it has the potential to deliver over 5000 jobs in the local chemicals, manufacturing and distribution sectors and generate an extra £370 million for the Scottish economy.

Under a TIF deal the council will borrow from the Public Loans Board to pay for servicing key development sites with access roads, power and light then use receipts from the business rates which will come later to repay the debt.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “This is a very significant and important step in our plans to tap into the full potential of the Falkirk area.

‘‘We believe Falkirk is an economic powerhouse for Scotland and that a huge amount of potential for development exists through growth in our key sectors of chemicals, manufacturing and logistics.

‘‘We expect these sectors to play a major part in kick-starting Scotland’s economic growth, boosting exports and creating local jobs.

“We have been working on this for 18 months and have now been given Scottish Government approval to take our ideas to the next level. I firmly believe exciting times lie ahead for the working population of Faklkirk district and the businesses we have already attracted here.

“Through the TIF model we are going to be able to offer firms fully serviced ‘ready to go’ locations for them to build their businesses on.

‘‘It’s an American idea and one which I’m convinced can be made to work for our benefit here. We could be on the verge of opening a new chapter in Falkirk’s economic history with the biggest investment in the area since the petro-chemical industry arrived and completely changing our economic situation.”

In the months ahead council experts will now work closely with the Scottish Futures Trust to shape the final business case for the government to consider. Mr Martin hopes this can be completed in time for some regeneration works to at least start some time next year.