Evening Times

Business leaders hit out at Tories

- By STEWART PATERSON

BUSINESS leaders have condemned the decision by SNP and Tory MSPs on the finance committee to back the government over the scrapping of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (Garl).

The SNP and Tory MSPs on the committee voted down a Labour bid to call on Finance Mini st e r Jo h n Swinney to reinstate the project.

Tory finance spokesman Derek Brownlee voted with SNP’s Andrew Welsh, Linda Fabiani and Joe Fitzpatric­k on two votes and abstained on one.

Last week, business groups told Mr Swinney that Garl was affordable and should be reinstated.

While the Tories are usually associated as the party of business, they chose to ignore its most powerful voices and agree with the government.

The committee report on the budget included details of votes on the reinstatem­ent of Garl.

Labour spokesman David Whitton had called for the committee to request the project return to the agenda. It was defeated by three SNP and one Tory vote to three Labour votes with LibDem Jeremy Purvis abstaining.

Mr Brownlee also voted with the SNP on a motion by the LibDem MSP that the case for cancellati­on had not been made.

Stuart Patrick, chief exec- utive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said he was surprised the Tories were going against what is recognised as essential infrastruc­ture investment.

He said: “It could be interprete­d that they don’t want to be seen to be backing reinstatem­ent without a clear alternativ­e.

“However, I don’t accept this is a case of one project or another.

“We shouldn’t be making cuts in infrastruc­ture that will affect competitiv­eness.

A CBI Scotland spokesman said: “It is very disappoint­ing that the parliament­ary committee has not voted to support our calls for the reinstatem­ent of the project and all the economic and environmen­tal benefits that would bring.

“After all, the Scottish Government’s budget will increase next year albeit not by as much as ministers have anticipate­d.”

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