An ambitious funding bid to create 6000 new jobs and bring an extra £400 million into the local economy every year has been revealed.
Falkirk Council and its partners are asking for £238 million from the governments in Westminster and Holyrood as part of a growth deal that they hope will transform the local economy.
One of the initiatives would see a ‘Falkirk Central’ transport hub created at the current Grahamston Railway Station.
It would have a rail/bus/active travel interchange in the heart of the council area, linking key sites and places across the district with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
There are also plans for a park and ride service.
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At a meeting of the local authority’s executive commitee on Tuesday where members heard the bid had been submitted, director Rhona Geisler said: “This has to be one of the most significant pieces of work the council has ever undertaken.
“This will be transformational, not just for our area, but for the whole of Scotland.”
The planned Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone which the funding would help to create must make huge changes to be successful, members heard.
That includes making an area that is one of the UK’s largest carbon creators into a low carbon zone.
Falkirk is one of the last councils to take advantage of the funding – but it’s asking for a much bigger amount than any other.
That’s because they believe that boosting Grangemouth’s oil and chemical industries will have a national impact.
“Grangemouth’s importance to the UK cannot be underestimated,” said Mrs Geisler.
The investment zone aims to make transport links to the area better – including improved access to Grangemouth’s port.
Councillors heard that while Grangemouth would see a lot of the changes, the benefits would be felt across the district.
Mrs Geisler said that it was important that pupils in Falkirk’s schools and college should be prepared to take advantage of the high quality jobs that would come to the area.
The transport initiative is part of an £80 million package to deliver Great Places, while there is £79 million needed for the innovative industry plans and £72 million for the planned national economic infrastructure.
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “It is an ambitious bid but we want to see more sustainable growth in future years for our area.
“If we are successful we will see a great future for the area and a place at the heart of Scotland’s future.”
Opposition councillors backed the deal although Conservative leader Lynn Munro said she would welcome the chance to scrutinise it more closely.
Labour councillor Joan Coombes, who lives in Grangemouth, said she welcomed the scheme but remained sceptical about how much benefit ordinary people living in the shadow of the high-polluting refinery would see.
She said: “Grangemouth produces more carbon than anywhere else in Scotland, not just marginally but by a long chalk.
“It’s good for industry but it’s not good for the people who live there.”
She was assured that communities would benefit as ‘inclusivity’ was part of the criteria to secure the funding.
The result of the bid is expected to be announced in either November or December this year when the level of investment will be revealed.
Depending on the outcome, it will then allow the local authority and its partners to take forward all the projects which have have the necessary funding.