The two MSPs representing Falkirk district, Michael Matheson and Angus MacDonald have slammed the decision by the ruling Labour / Tory Council to transfer business support ‘in-house’ in the face of strong opposition from the district’s business leaders and the SNP Group at Falkirk Council.
Last Wednesday at Falkirk Council’s full meeting, ruling Labour and Tory Councillors forced through their policy despite the Council not having the structure and staff in place to deliver the level of business support required in Falkirk district, and despite strong opposition from members of Falkirk’s Business Panel, which consists of over 2000 local businesses.
Angus MacDonald MSP, who prior to being elected to the Scottish Parliament last year was the SNP’s economic development spokesperson at Falkirk Council claimed the action by the Council was “strange” given the Labour / Tory administration had lauded the results of Falkirk for Business in report after report to the Council’s Economic Strategy and Development Committee and consistently promoted the arms-length organisation as the vehicle to deliver business support in Falkirk district.
Speaking after the Council’s decision Angus MacDonald said:
“It seems strange that Falkirk district’s ruling Labour / Tory administration have done a u-turn and brought such an important service in-house when, up to now, we have been told what a great job Falkirk for Business has been doing over the past 4 years in providing business support.
“Indeed as recently as March, members of the 2,000 strong Falkirk Business Panel voiced their strong opposition to the move to bring business support services ‘in-house’ yet Falkirk Council have pushed this policy through while paying no heed whatsoever to the wishes of the local business community.”
“In addition I have serious concerns about the so-called ‘independent’ review which was conducted. Not only was it rushed, but Falkirk for Business partners in Stirling and Clackamannan (Step and Ceteris) were not consulted, and consultation with local businesses was selective. There are also question marks over the tendering process for the independent review.”
“Under the new plans it seems that Falkirk Council’s proposals will mean less support for the district’s businesses, with reduced targets, at a time when we have to pull the area out of a double-dip recession.”
“From the actions we have seen last week, and the complete inaction and inertia over the last 5 years with regard to regeneration in Grangemouth, Bo’ness and other district centres it is clear Labour have no idea about economic regeneration or business support and I really fear for the future prospects of the business community locally now that Councillor Dennis Goldie has his hands on business support in Falkirk district.”
Local MSP’s Michael Matheson and Angus MacDonald are disappointed that Falkirk Council have decided to bring Falkirk for Business back under council control after the recent council meeting.
Mr Matheson said
“I am very disappointed that Falkirk Council have taken this decision, despite the very significant level of concern expressed by the local business community.
“Our local businesses play an extremely important role in creating jobs and it’s important that the council treat them as partners in tackling some of the economic challenges we face in the area. On this occasion the council have not done this and it simply sends out the wrong message as local businesses will now appear to have less support under the new arrangements and the expertise of local business people will be lost in the process”
Both MSPs highlighted the strong performance from Falkirk for Business over the past 12 months, which included:
- Enabling 360 business start-ups
- Supported the survival and growth of 1157 local companies
- Helped to create and sustain 545 jobs
- Assisted economic growth by £41.5 million
- Created 271 jobs through pipeline and DRM support