Falkirk ‘epitomises the opportunities and challenges’ of Scottish independence

Finance Secretary John Swinney speaking at Falkirk Town Hall earlier today. Picture: Michael Gillen
Finance Secretary John Swinney speaking at Falkirk Town Hall earlier today. Picture: Michael Gillen

Finance secretary John Swinney has said that the Falkirk district “epitomises the opportunities and challenges” of Scottish independence.

The Scottish Government minister spoke to The Falkirk Herald ahead of a public meeting at Falkirk Town Hall earlier today.

Mr Swinney visited the town with youth employment minister Angela Constance to answer questions on the government’s vision of an independent Scotland.

“Falkirk epitomises, in many respects, the opportunities and the challenges that face Scotland,” he said.

“We’ve got a strong manufacturing base here, and an emerging, strong, tourism sector thanks to the investments being made. But equally there are still many challenges in terms of unemployment and helping people find their way into the labour market.

“What we’ve got to do is create a much more dynamic Scottish economy, and we can do that if we have a broader range of economic powers at our disposal to improve the opportunities for people - whether that’s through the transformation of childcare that leads to more women getting back into the labour market, or whether it’s investing in the process of research and development to encourage the manufacturing process in Falkirk.”

The former SNP leader described the industries centred around Grangemouth as being vital to the Scottish economy, and insisted that the Ineos petrochemical plant could prosper in the wake of a Yes vote on September 18, despite enduring a difficult 12 months.

“The petrochemical industry is a major employer locally and in Scottish terms it’s a substantial contributor towards our GDP,” he added.

“The industry is of fundamental importance to health and vitality of the Scottish economy, we attach great importance to ensuring that we have a stable tax regime so that companies are involved in the oil and gas sector are able to operate and investment can continue - which would secure the long term future of the plant.

“2013 was a very challenging year for the Grangemouth site and we had to work extremely hard to ensure a stable future was secured. What the Scottish Government is trying to do is to work with the company and with the trade unions to ensure the foundations of its economic activity can be assured in the future.”