Tay­side is split by bridge cash

Mixed re­ac­tion to the first min­is­ter’s an­nounce­ment of £40 mil­lion fund­ing for new Perthshire cross­ing over the River Tay

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - PETER JOHN MEIKLEM pmeik­[email protected]­courier.co.uk

The first min­is­ter has de­fended in­vest­ing £40 mil­lion in a third Perth bridge over the Tay at the ex­pense of more sub­stan­tial sup­port for the for­mer Miche­lin tyre plant in Dundee.

Nicola Stur­geon vis­ited Perth Col­lege UHI yes­ter­day to an­nounce £50m ad­di­tional Tay Cities Re­gion fund­ing, tak­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment con­tri­bu­tion from £150m to £200m.

She an­nounced £40m for the Cross Tay Link Road (CTLR) and £10m for a man­u­fac­tur­ing in­vest­ment pro­gramme, which will in­clude sup­port for the for­mer Miche­lin fac­tory in Dundee.

Politi­cians in Perth hailed “a great day” for the city while Dundee rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­acted with dis­may to the an­nounce­ment.

Jenny Marra, Labour MSP, said Dundee had been “short-changed” as it had been ex­pect­ing the ma­jor­ity of the £50m to deal with the fall­out of the Miche­lin plant clo­sure.

“This has turned into part of the bat­tle for votes be­tween the SNP and the Con­ser­va­tives,” she said.

But sources close to the ne­go­ti­a­tions said Perth politi­cians had been “spit­ting feath­ers” when the CTLR was omit­ted at the last minute from the main Tay Cities Re­gion Deal an­nounce­ment made in No­vem­ber.

Ar­gu­ments over the al­lo­ca­tion of the lat­est £50m are said to have raged right up un­til di­rectly be­fore the FM’S an­nounce­ment.

The CTLR is seen as es­sen­tial for sup­port­ing eco­nomic growth in the city, though crit­ics claim it will only move traf­fic con­ges­tion to ar­eas out­side of the city cen­tre.

In her first ma­jor an­nounce­ment of the year, Ms Stur­geon told an au­di­ence of coun­cil­lors, of­fi­cials, lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers and me­dia that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment had al­ways in­tended to in­vest an ad­di­tional £50m in the Tay Cities Re­gion.

“We have taken a bit of time to work out what the best use of that money will be,” she said.

“So the Cross Tay Link Road, and sup­port for man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies, are in our view a re­ally im­por­tant use of that money to sup­port wider re­gional eco­nomic devel­op­ment in Tay­side.”

The CTLR in­vest­ment would “un­lock hous­ing and devel­op­ment, re­duce con­ges­tion, make it eas­ier for busi­nesses to trade and sup­port new hous­ing,” she added.

Busi­ness quango Scot­tish En­ter­prise will al­lo­cate the new £10m man­u­fac­tur­ing cash, which will sup­port busi­nesses in Tay­side, An­gus and north Fife.

The first min­is­ter said she had “no doubt” the Miche­lin plant in Dundee would be a key player in those dis­cus­sions.

“The fu­ture of the Miche­lin site – which Miche­lin is com­mit­ted to be­ing a part of as well – is a key fo­cus of our am­bi­tions for man­u­fac­tur­ing in Tay­side, so I have got no doubt it will fea­ture in the dis­cus­sions as they move for­ward,” she said.

Murdo Fraser, Con­ser­va­tive MSP, said the ear­lier omis­sion of the CTLR fund­ing had caused “real con­cerns” in Perth.

“The Cross Tay Link Road is a vi­tal pro­ject for the eco­nomic devel­op­ment of Perth and east­ern Perthshire. Without sup­port from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment it was un­likely that it could pro­ceed, and to­day’s an­nounce­ment should en­sure that it now hap­pens,” he said.

“When the Tay Cities Deal fund­ing was an­nounced last year there were real con­cerns that the ex­pected CTLR fund­ing was not part of that pack­age.”

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