‘Mo­men­tous’ day for re­gion

The Galloway News - - NEWS -

STEPHEN NOR­RIS Years of cam­paign­ing for a south of Scotland de­vel­op­ment agency have fi­nally been re­warded.

MSPs rub­ber-stamped leg­is­la­tion at Holy­rood last week to set up South of Scotland En­ter­prise.

Hopes are high the new agency will breathe new life into frag­ile com­mu­ni­ties and business sec­tors.

It will of­fi­cially be­gin work tackling the south’s press­ing eco­nomic problems on April 1, 2020.

Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Fergus Ewing wel­comed par­lia­ment’s ap­proval of the South of Scotland En­ter­prise Bill.

He said: “This is a mo­men­tous day which I’m sure will usher in a new era for the Scot­tish Bor­ders and Dum­fries and Gal­loway.

“We have been given the green light to press ahead with am­bi­tious plans to cre­ate an en­ter­prise agency that is tai­lored specif­i­cally to cap­i­talise on the tremen­dous un­tapped po­ten­tial in the area.

“It will drive in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able growth whilst tak­ing into account the area’s dis­tinct eco­nomic cir­cum­stances.

“Im­por­tantly the new agency will be an ex­em­plar in de­liv­er­ing real progress on fair work prac­tices, tackling is­sues like the gen­der pay gap and ageism in the work­place, as well as pro­mot­ing the liv­ing wage.

“I’m confident that South of Scotland En­ter­prise will help us achieve a fresh and dif­fer­ent ap­proach to de­liver growth.”

Gal­loway and West Dum­fries MSP Finlay Car­son was “ab­so­lutely de­lighted” the bill had passed.

He told the News: “The agency has got huge po­ten­tial to un­lock new business op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties to forge a brighter fu­ture for the south.

“It has been a long time time com­ing. I am how­ever some­what dis­ap­pointed that the SNP did not sup­port moves within the bill to ad­dress the is­sue of af­ford­able hous­ing.

“That is one of the ma­jor barriers to young peo­ple stay­ing in the area and for young peo­ple with am­bi­tion and tal­ent to come and stay in south Scotland.”

South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine se­cured changes to the bill to recog­nise the eco­nomic im­por­tance of cul­ture and nat­u­ral her­itage.

High­light­ing Dum­fries’ The Stove Net­work, the Mid­steeple Quar­ter Project and Cre­ative Fu­tures as ex­am­ples, she said: “The vi­brancy of our area’s cul­ture is renowned lo­cally, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“It also has a di­verse business base, many of which are small, and fam­ily owned. The eco­nomic seeds are all there and, with the right nur­tur­ing, can flour­ish.”

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “Having cam­paigned for a new agency for a decade, I’m pleased we are now a step closer. I’m par­tic­u­larly de­lighted to have made a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of changes to the pro­pos­als in Par­lia­ment so that the new agency will be more ac­count­able to the lo­cal area. It’s vi­tal that the agency is rooted here in the South of Scotland and de­liv­ers those lo­cal so­lu­tions to the big chal­lenges our econ­omy faces. The sooner it gets to work the bet­ter.”

Sweet success Keith Irv­ing with his award win­ning bis­cuits

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