Falkirk Council Labour group disappointed in Growth Deal award

Falkirk Council’s Labour group says it shares the council leader’s disappointment in the £90 million Growth Deal announced last month.

By Kirsty Paterson
Friday, 14th August 2020, 7:30 am
The ambitious Falkirk bid made its case on the fact that the Falkirk area – and Grangemouth in particular – is of national importance but also has the highest concentration of carbon emissions in Scotland.
The ambitious Falkirk bid made its case on the fact that the Falkirk area – and Grangemouth in particular – is of national importance but also has the highest concentration of carbon emissions in Scotland.

The council had hoped for grant funding of nearly £240 million to help its ambitious plans to create 6000 new jobs and boost the local economy by £400 million annually.

The Labour group’s economic development spokesperson, Councillor Allyson Black, said: “We share, therefore, the disappointment expressed by the Council Leader in the award of £90m which, while being not insignificant, does not meet our community aspirations or recognise the area’s contribution to the national economy.”

The UK Government will provide £40 million of the cash while the Scottish Government will contribute £50 million.

When the announcement was made, Michael Matheson MSP criticised the Westminster government for contributing less than Holyrood had provided.

He said: “Regional growth deals are crucial catalysts for boosting sustainable economic growth across Scotland.

“However, the UK Government did not only drag its heels before committing to such a deal for Falkirk but, now that it has finally done so, it is short-changing our communities and businesses by not matching the Scottish Government’s commitment.

But Ms Black said: “Mr Matheson rightly criticised the Westminster Tories but the fact remains that Mr Matheson’s government pledged to contribute half of the £240m but produced £50m.

“The launch of the bid in January, addressed by Mr Matheson, was full of optimism at the chances of success.

“Other areas which have received far more growth funding do not contribute to the national wealth as we do.”

The ambitious Falkirk bid made its case on the fact that the Falkirk area – and Grangemouth in particular – is of national importance but also has the highest concentration of carbon emissions in Scotland.

Ms Black said: “The growth bid foresaw carbon capture projects, decarbonisation and sustainable transport all of which ties in with both governments’ green recovery plans.

“The Council’s own local recovery plan is nearing completion.

“We believe that this is an opportunity not only to help big businesses but also to encourage and support small and medium sized businesses through investment, community wealth building and procurement policies.

“The plan must deal also with the anticipated increase in unemployment, especially that affecting our young people.

“The disappointment experienced should above all renew efforts, which we will support, to attract more funding, based on our undeniable case and, hopefully, led by all of our elected representatives at Holyrood and Westminster.”

When the deal was announced, the SNP council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said the council would continue to look for other sources of funding for their plans.

She said: “The Investment Zone for Falkirk-Grangemouth aims to transform the area’s economic fortunes at a vitally important time especially post Covid-19.

“We will continue to push for more funding sources to ensure the vital role the local economy plays in Scotland and further afield is recognised and supported leading to large scale employment opportunities as well as enabling innovation.”

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