Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson chaired a series of meetings in Stranraer last week focussing on employment and regeneration.
Representatives from Stena Line, Visit Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Stranraer Development Trust were among those who attended a meeting looking at short term initiatives to improve the East Pier.
In the afternoon, Mr Carson chaired a further meeting with Dumfries and Galloway and College and local major employers to explore ways to close the ‘skills gap’ that exists when young people leave college or university but are unable to find a job in the area.
Earlier in the week, the MSP questioned both the Minister for Local Government and Housing about Scottish Government support for the East Pier regeneration project. In response, Kevin Stewart failed to mention anything about the £6 million that John Swinney promised the town during the Scottish Parliament election campaign.
Mr Carson said: “The two meetings I chaired in Stranraer last week were both very positive and constructive.
“I was pleased to be able to bring key stakeholders round the table to explore areas where agencies, businesses and the local community can work together to take forward ideas in the short term to regenerate the East Pier.
“The meeting between Dumfries and Galloway College and major local employers was also extremely useful.
“It is often the case that young people move away from the area to find a job that suits their qualification, which isn’t good for our local economy.
“This way a key theme that emerged from my visits to local businesses in Wigtownshire during the summer, where concerns were raised about both succession planning, availability of apprenticeship schemes and possible employment for young people.
“I want the College and local employers to work together to fill this skills gap and there was goodwill on both sides to do this.
“Stranraer has a huge amount of potential and I’m determined that this is realised and that the town does not become the forgotten gateway to Scotland”.
Romano Petucci from the Stranraer Development Trust commented: “Stranraer Development Trust were delighted to be asked to what was an extremely positive meeting.
“The aim of The Trust is to create opportunities for our Town and to make sure those opportunities bring more and more visitors here whilst creating a pride in our area for the locals and businesses alike.
“We have said all along that nothing will be achieved without everyone pulling and working together. It was very clear from the meeting that the Council, Visit Scotland, Stena and Finlay Carson absolutely agree.
“We believe that if we continue to sing from the same hymn sheet, our Town will be the heart-beat of The Rhins-clean, colourful and welcoming to everyone who visits and lives here.
“There is so much to be gained for everyone if we work together and the community of Stranraer have shown many times that they will support, appreciate and aid every group or business who has their Town at heart in any efforts they are good enough to make on its behalf”.
Diane Poole OBE, Stena Line’s Head of Communications and PR commented: “The meeting at Dumfries and Galloway College was an important first step in trying to establish closer links between the college, employers and other interested stakeholders in the region.
“Education has an important role to play in the future development of skills for the next generation but so too are apprenticeships and placements with local employers which is why it was encouraging to see a number of local employers, including Stena Line as the largest employer in the area, attend the event.
“Being able to get agreement and support for an ‘Employers Opportunities Day’ encouraging parents, schoolchildren and employers to discuss potential career paths with industries across the region was a real bonus from the event.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Findlay Carson MSP for the leadership and commitment he has shown by supporting this important initiative for the development of the next generation of workers in the Dumfries and Galloway region”.