MacDonald rejects claims of 70% funding cut to coalfields regeneration trust
Friday, 11 March 2011 06:31
SNP Candidate for Falkirk East, Councillor Angus MacDonald today rejected claims in the Falkirk Herald (10/3/11) by Nicky Wilson, Scottish trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust that the Scottish Government plans to go ahead with cuts of up to 70% to the trust's budget.
Cllr MacDonald said:
"I have received an assurance from the Communities Minister Alex Neil MSP, himself the son and grandson of a miner, that no decision has yet been taken by the Scottish Government on the future funding of this trust. This level of scaremongering is inaccurate, misleading and certainly far from helpful.
"Recently we have seen the local success of the Coalfield's Regeneration Trust's work with Falkirk Council's Employment & Training Unit, Skills Development Scotland and Oatridge College in transforming a local eyesore into a parkland amenity and wetland area at Gairdoch Park, Carronshore. I am keen to see more partnership working with the Trust, the Council and local social enterprises to ensure other environmental improvements are undertaken locally.
"The Gairdoch Initiative for example created 12 modern apprenticeships in amenity horticulture for young people in the local former mining area who were at risk of long-term unemployment. These successes have not gone un-noticed by the Scottish Government.
Communities Minister Alex Neil said:
"The Scottish Government sees the Coalfields Regeneration Trust continuing to have a permanent and major role in helping us to regenerate coalfield communities. Claims that we are not committed to the future of the trust are absolutely not true. I and my officials have had productive meetings with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and I have told it that we must give priority to two issues. First, we must maintain the core capacity of the trust, particularly the four staff who work there, so that they can continue to deliver on behalf of the coalfield communities. Secondly, the future focus must be on creating new jobs and industry in those areas, although not to the exclusion of everything else. The trust’s role is to be a partner in levering in funding from the private sector and the public sector, through the range of other available funds, to help the process of job creation.
It is also totally untrue that I have decided to impose savage cuts on the trust. We have made no decision on the trust’s future budget because we are waiting for the trust to come forward with its business plan. Indeed, in its annual report from 2010, the trust said that it recognised the need for a change of emphasis and focus in its operations and that it wants to focus on dealing with the problems of worklessness and related issues, unemployment and the need to attract new jobs and industry."