Growth Deal funding for Falkirk district cautiously welcomed by MSP

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has cautiously welcomed new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s funding pledge to support Regional Growth Deals.

Mr Johnson has announced an additional £300 million for such agreements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a percentage expected to go towards Falkirk district’s long-awaited Growth Deal.

The details were made public after the Prime Minister announced £3.6 billion was to be made available for Regional Growth Deals for 100 towns across northern England.

Last week it was revealed the local economy, environment and infrastructure could benefit from a £280 million investment after productive talks were held between Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn and Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell at Westminster.

However, Mr Mundell was later sacked by the Prime Minister as he reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday.

Falkirk Council, through leader Cecil Meiklejohn and economic development portfolio holder David Alexander, have been working behind the scenes to secure a deal for Falkirk district.

Mr MacDonald said: “I welcome any funding that will be coming to Falkirk district that will help to boost our local economy and provide a foundation for much-needed investment and employment in the area.

“However, I am more than a little cautious about this announcement, given the timing and nature following the events of the last weeks.

“Councillors Cecil Meiklejohn and David Alexander have been working on securing a deal for Falkirk district for some time now, given the previous administration failed to engage and secure anything for our communities, so I can’t say that this is a new announcement, neither does it appear adequate considering this is £300 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“The Prime Minister must forget about playing the fool that he is so commonly associated with and ensure that any consequential funding from the £3.6 billion announced for the north of England is given to the other nations as soon as is practicable so as not to short change our communities here in Falkirk district and elsewhere.

“Anything less will cost him and his government dear. We must also not forget that this funding, although welcome, will also be insufficient to deal with the severe issues on the horizon that will be brought about by Brexit.

“Given that Boris Johnson will not hesitate to take us out of the EU with no deal, and plunge all of the UK into an economic shock that will hit jobs, businesses and families the most, we must always have an alternative option to protect us from the damage that a no-deal Brexit will cause, and we must be able to make that decision sooner rather than later.”