South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the UK and Scottish Governments of letting down Langholm, after a lack of action on jobs despite both hosting three jobs summits in the town over the last five years.
The comments come after Edinburgh Woollen Mill confirmed their long anticipated plans to axe their headquarters in Langholm and move to Carlisle. It’s the latest jobs blow for the town that suffered from the closures of Reid and Taylor textiles and Border Fine Arts in recent years.
Following past job losses, the Scottish Government held a jobs summit in Langholm in 2013, attended by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, at the end of 2016 a further jobs summit was arranged by the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell who said the summit would be used to “come up with a plan to sustain the area’s economy in the coming years” and in February 2017 a third summit was held by Scottish Government Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse.
Mr Smyth pointed out that since the three summits the job losses in the area have increased and there has been no additional investment in jobs in Langholm by either the UK or Scottish Governments.
He said said: “Every time there are job losses in Langholm , UK and Scottish Government Ministers are clueless about what to do so they simply say let’s have a jobs summit. Yet since those three summits were held, the jobs crisis in the town has actually got worse. At the time the summits suggested some positive ideas but although there have been some excellent local initiatives and the community have worked hard to support the town, we haven’t seen a single example of any extra support coming from either the UK or Scottish Governments who are letting down Langholm”.
“No-one pretends you can stop ruthless private firms walking away without any regard for a town’s history or the impact it has on a community, which we have seen from Philip Day’s action in axing Edinburgh Woollen Mill. But maybe if both Governments had a proper industrial strategy we would have more than just a heritage centre to look forward to as far as the textile industry in Eskdale is concerned.
“Unless there is more focused support from Government to help grow existing local businesses, incentives to attract new companies to the area and investment in for example the A7 or extending the Borders railway through Langholm, then the problem of young people leaving the area due to a lack of opportunities will simply grow”.
“We also need to see an end to austerity and the cuts in public spending as this is draining more and more jobs in the health service and council from the area. Both Governments need to wake up to the fact you can’t cut your way out of the current jobs crisis. It’s investment the community needs.”