Economic plan for Falkirk district approved

The Kelpies are just one of the tourist attractions that can help build the economy
The Kelpies are just one of the tourist attractions that can help build the economy

An ambitious plan to build business across Falkirk district to protect and create jobs and boost the economy has been agreed.

Over the next five years a new economic strategy will target growth, investment and inclusion.

Expanding its industrial base, promoting tourism and regenerating town centres will be key to meeting the challenges and grabbing the opportunities that lie ahead.

A cross-party policy development panel (PDP) of five councillors worked with officers to agree the priorities. Meetings with individuals, groups and businesses, including the Falkirk Economic Partnership, heads of key council services, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise were held and an online consultation exercise was met with a “positive” response.

Douglas Duff, the council’s head of economic development and environmental services, told the executive: “Resources will be made available to move things forward and there will be more engagement with the business community.”

A review of the strategy will be carried out in 2020 to make sure it is on track.

SNP Councillor Tom Coleman, a member of the PDP, said a ‘progress report’ every three years would be more effective.

He also claimed the consultation showed nearly half of the people who responded “were not sure about what’s going on” and called for a “comprehensive” survey of the business community to get their views.

Councillor Coleman said: “The strategy’s agreed, but we have to be pro-active to get more support to do the things we want to do. We should be talking to business people, not at them.”

Councillor Robert Spears of the Non Aligned Independent Group said: “Consultation has to be expanded greatly. Broadening the business base of Grangemouth needs full consultation with the people of Grangemouth.”

The executive voted 7-3 to approve the strategy for publication.

Labour Councillor Dennis Goldie, spokesperson for economic development, claimed: “This is the conclusion of an extensive dialogue with business and consultation exercise that’s helped us make some informed conclusions about the best way forward for the local economy.

“The council and its partners have a genuine commitment to realising the area’s potential. The strategy is a dynamic document, enabling us to respond to opportunities as they arise.

Delivering its ambitions will not be easy against the background of financial constraints, but we are confident business and other partners will support these plans.”