Dumfries and Galloway misses out on enterprise area status

THE Scottish Government is being criticised for snubbing the region on its list of enterprise areas released this week.

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney announced four enterprise areas, comprising a total of 14 sites across the country which come under four categories - life sciences; low carbon/renewables north; low carbon/renewables east and general manufacturing and growth sectors.

The Government said the purpose of the enterprise areas is to stimulate private investment, create jobs and improve the economy in these particular locations.

But Labour Group Leader, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, said he was deeply disappointed that the region has been left out.

He added: “Long term unemployment in our region increased by over 50 percent last year, which was one of the largest increases in the country. This should have made us a prime candidate for the extra help and support that comes with being identified as an enterprise zone. To ignore us is nothing short of a snub to local jobs by the SNP.

“All the evidence suggests that enterprise zones simply displace businesses from elsewhere and so the reality of this announcement is that it will move potential investment from Dumfries and Galloway to other parts of the country. The enterprise areas will benefit from specific incentives such as reduced business rates. Given the huge problem facing our local economy here, I think people will find the fact the SNP are able to reduce rates elsewhere at our expense a bitter pill to swallow.

“The nightmare scenario would be if a company currently operating here decides to move to an enterprise area to take advantage of the incentives. That our region has been forgotten about by the SNP is nothing new, but now we see them pursing policies that actively discourage companies coming here.

“I have written to Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney calling on him to reconsider this disgraceful decision because at it stands, Dumfries and Galloway is set to miss out on major potential investment that could have brought a serious number of jobs.”

South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume agreed, saying: ““It’s absolute neglect from the Scottish Government that Dumfries and Galloway has been ignored in this announcement.

“The region is an area crying out for this type of economic focus which would undoubtedly attract much needed inward investment.

“In a low wage area like Dumfries and Galloway that means jobs. At a time when the latest jobs figures have just been announced, it’s a crushing blow to the region’s employment prospects.

“It’s obvious from this announcement that the Scottish Government are focussing their efforts on where they get votes rather than where people need jobs.”