South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to deliver for the region’s economy.
He made the call as the First Minister is due to make a key note speech at the National Economic Forum on Wednesday at the Crichton Campus Dumfries.
Colin Smyth’s call also comes as hundreds of jobs still remain under threat at nearby Pinneys Factory in Annan.
Colin Smyth said, “The National Economic Forum coming to Dumfries will be a missed opportunity for the Dumfries and Galloway economy if the First Minister comes empty handed. While Nicola Sturgeon and a host of her Ministers make speeches, eighteen miles away hundreds of jobs remain under threat at Pinneys, in Annan. That threat exposes the fundamental weaknesses in a local economy plagued by low pay and a lack of opportunities to keep young people in the region and a local roads and digital infrastructure which lags behind the rest of Scotland, and acts as a major disadvantage to local businesses. We need firm action from the Government not more talking shops”.
The Agenda for the Forum also includes the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. Last year Colin Smyth outlined proposals on how an Agency could have been established in months by establishing a joint Committee which could involve all stakeholders under the Local Government Act 1973 however instead local people will have to wait two years before the Agency is fully up and running.
Colin Smyth commented, “There is a real frustration that the Scottish Government don’t plan to have the full Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland up and running for two years. The Economic Partnership is a step in the right direction but falls short of the economic stimulus the region needs now with a £10 million budget which is fraction of the size of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise Agency. There could be a full Enterprise Agency set up now under the proposals I outlined last year”.