Labour press Scottish Government over Stranraer

The Labour Group on Dumfries and Galloway Council have stepped up the pressure on the Scottish Government to provide funding to regenerate the Stranraer Waterfront following the recent announcement that the McKinney Group has been appointed as preferred bidder to bring forward detailed proposals for the regeneration of the 17 acre East Pier on the Waterfront.

The Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney has agreed to meet with Labour Councillor Colin Smyth, the Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee to discuss the project.

Councillor Smyth said: “The regeneration of Stranraer is a priority for the Council and the recent announcement of the preferred developer for the East Pier is a big step forward. The Council has already invested around £4m to develop Agnew Park, the West Pier and sailing facilities as part of the overall vision for the waterfront and as a Council Administration we are committed to putting in even more funding in the future.

“We have also been able to attract UK Government Funding through the Coastal Communities Fund as well as EU grants and we are now on the way to bringing private sector investment in through redevelopment of the East Pier.

“However, the weak link remains the Scottish Government. We have to honest and say whilst the Waterfront is an attractive opportunity, it isn’t in the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh. Property values in the area are low compared to other parts of Scotland, so there won’t be a big queue of private companies looking to pump millions into Stranraer over night to get a big return. The project is a slow burner and there is no doubt that with a site very much on the periphery, there will be an element of market failure.

“The site itself will need several millions spent on it to bring it up to a developable standard, for example through improvements to roads and other infrastructure, and there may well need to be an element of public sector facilities built on the site. That’s where the Scottish Government needs to step up to the mark and play their part. Without Scottish Government funding, regeneration may well happen eventually but certainly not to the full potential in the timescale we want to see it happen.

“I wrote to John Swinney seeking a meeting to discuss possible Scottish Government investment and I am pleased he has agreed. Ahead of that meeting, over the remainder of the summer officials from the council and the Scottish Government will meet to discuss the project and then I will be meeting with the Minister to talk about how the Scottish Government can play a part in helping us take the project forward”.