South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Colin Smyth has told the Scottish Government that £10m of investment alone will be needed in the Annan area to mitigate against the closure of Pinneys in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway.
The local MSP issued the warning in a meeting with Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy in Annan on Thursday (19 July) where he told the Minister and officials that the scale of redundancies that will hit the town in next two months when Pinney’s closes means that any ‘Action Plan’ developed using an allocation of funding of £250,000 from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership will have to be “ambitious” and include measures not only to support growth within existing businesses in the town but also attract new companies to locate in the area.
The MSP believes the DG12 area should be given the status of an Enterprise Area by the Scottish Government which would entitle businesses to claim 100% business rates relief, provide allowances for capital investment, a more streamlined planning process and support with skills and training.
Colin Smyth said, “The clock is ticking towards the closure of Pinneys in a few weeks and both UK and Scottish Government’s need to wake up to the sheer scale of the impact this will have on Annan and the surrounding area. I made clear to Fergus Ewing and officials that I have asked that the Action Plan being developed using the £250,000 funding from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership is ambitious. The level of projects and support it needs to be propose is likely to cost £10m if it is to really make a difference. That is more than the entire budget of the new Economic Partnership, so both the UK and Scottish Government will need to put their hands in their pockets to fund those projects”.
“The projects in the Action Plan will need to be radical. It should include small, but nonetheless important initiatives such as help with transport costs for people who will have to travel for employment when Pinney’s closes but also major investment to bring new companies to the area. The Pinney’s site is an excellent location but it is clear no one wants to buy the current factory as its design, layout and size aren’t suitable and it can’t easily be divided. Young’s should show some corporate responsibility, hand over the site which will avoid them having to be pay rates on an empty factory for the next few years, it could then be demolished and appropriate business units built to accommodate new businesses because there is clearly interest. If the area was given Enterprise Area status, which happens in other parts of Scotland, that would attract 100% business rates relief as well as other support to make it more attractive. Other parts of Scotland have Enterprise Area status, so why not our area”.
“It is also crucial that initiatives such as the Jobs Fair held in Annan last week become a regular event, not just a one off, and the support from Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) being given to workers at the moment, needs to continue well beyond the day Pinney’s closes”