Slipway decision lacked business plan, say Labour

THE decision by Dumfries and Galloway Council to press ahead with spending over £1 million on the West Pier slipway in Stranraer has been criticised by the Labour Group.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Environment Services Committee on Tuesday where members considered two options for a slipway - a new slipway in Stranraer or repairing a slipway at Wig Bay. A motion by Councillor Grahame Forster to refer the issue to Wigtownshire Area Commitee and to seek match funding from the Scottish Government for the slipway project was defeated by 10 votes to 9.

Labour’s Planning, Housing and Environment Services Spokesperon Councillor Colin Smyth said: “Councillors previously agreed to receive a detailed business case before a decision was made on whether to go ahead with spending over £1 million on a new slipway. In an ideal world of course we would want to see a new slipway built but the question is whether or not that is the immediate priority and that case has still to be made. The council only has £2.4 million to spend on regeneration projects in Stranraer so it is crucial that we scrutinise ever penny before it is allocated. I am disappointed that we didn’t have that detailed business case before a decision was made. ”

Stranraer and North Rhins Councillor Marion McCutcheon said, “Whatever the arguments for and against the slipway, we now find ourselves in a position where almost all the funding for regeneration projects has now been alloacted. This means that no other projects will now be able to go ahead until more funding is secured. It is therefore crucial that the Scottish Government now comes up with funding to match the investment being made by the council. Unless that happens then there is real fear that regeneration will grind to a halt. The council are putting funding in but so far the Scottish Government in Edinburgh have been posted missing”.

Councillor Jim McClung, Vice Chair of the Planning, Housing and Environment Committee said: “I am delighted with today’s decision, as we are committed to repositioning Stranraer as a top marine leisure destination and the new slipway is a vital part of this vision. The public slipway will be available for multipurpose use and will be easily accessed by anyone that wants to use it such as dinghy sailors, canoeists, boat owners and other watersport users.”

Councillor Roberta Tuckfield, Chair of Wigtown Area Committee added: “This is good news for the local economy and should help to attract a wide range of different marine leisure users to the loch. The slipway has the advantage of allowing boat owners to maintain boats out of the water and the finger pier will help with loading and unloading in windy conditions. It has also been agreed previously that safe sea fishing points and bird hides will be installed on the loch and the town will benefit from public realm works at its A77 and A75 entrances.