DUMFRIES and Galloway MP Russell Brown and Stranraer and North Rhins Labour Councillor Marion McCutcheon have called on the Scottish Government to “stop talking and start delivering” over the regeneration of Stranraer.
In recent weeks Dumfries and Galloway council have discussed how they plan to spend £2.7 million on projects to regenerate the town. In December the council agreed to proposals to refurbish the West Pier and this month they agreed to further projects including a town facelift scheme, bird hides and safe sea fishing points along Lochryan and improvements to the main entrances into the town.
However, despite setting up a taskforce in November 2011, the Scottish Government have so far failed to announce any major investment in the regeneration of the town. The only initiative - a two month reduction in rail fares from Stranraer to Glasgow - expired last month.
Last month it was also revealed that the last meeting of the taskforce in September had been moved to Edinburgh from Stranraer to accommodate the chair of the group, the Scottish Government’s new Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Capital Investment and Cities, Nicoloa Sturgeon. Russell Brown wrote to the Cabinet Secretary in September urging her to come to Stranraer and to make clear what the Scottish Government’s plans for the town were- but four months on she has still not replied.
Stranraer and North Rhins Councillor Marion McCutcheon said: “I have been saying for some time that the only way we will see the regeneration of Stranraer is if everyone works together - central government, the council and the private sector. The council have allocated £2.7 million but so far there has been a lot of disappointment that the Taskforce and the Scottish Government hasn’t really been playing its part. The range of projects being discussed to regenerate the town far outweighs the funding available from council. That’s why we have had this debate going on about whether the Waterfront or the wider town should get the funding. That has been a bit of a distraction because in my view we need to invest in both. I hope the Scottish Government starts to play its part and we can build on the decisions of the council in the last couple of month to start projects such as the refurbishment of the West Pier.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown added: “It is disappointing that the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is clearly too distracted running the SNP’s independence referendum campaign to do her day job as Minister with responsibility for regeneration. The fact she is Chair of the Stranraer Taskforce but has never been to Stranraer and doesn’t even reply to letters on the issue shows how low down the town is on the list of priorities for the Scottish Government. The reality is the £2.7 million allocated by the council for regeneration projects won’t scratch the surface. We need to see some serious investment, and that can only come from the Scottish Government, which in turn would help kick start private investment in the town.”