ANGUS MACDONALD ‘ENCOURAGED’ BY SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT RESPONSE ON TIF BID AND GRANGEMOUTH FLOOD DEFENCES
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:10
Falkirk East SNP MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed the response he received last week in the Scottish Parliament from Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth John Swinney when he asked about progress on funding for Grangemouth’s flood defences and Falkirk Council’s TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) bid, which would significantly boost economic development in the Grangemouth and Falkirk areas, generating up to £528m of construction investment and almost 6,000 jobs for the area.
Recent estimates by experts show that up to £100 million will be required in the future to complete Grangemouth’s flood defences. The TIF bid, if successful, will allow Falkirk Council to fund a proportion of the £100 million required. It will also assist in the funding of other major infrastructure projects in and around Grangemouth and Falkirk including:
- Improvements to the Avon Gorge A801 road;
- improvements at Westfield roundabout/A904;
- developments around the M9 corridor including major improvements to junction 6
Falkirk East’s MSP Angus MacDonald has already lobbied Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastruture and Capital Investment Alex Neil and has had discussions about the bid with Barry White, Chief Executive of the Scottish Futures Trust, who will all make the final decision on whether or not Falkirk Council’s bid is successful.
Following his question to Cabinet Secretary John Swinney on Thursday Angus MacDonald said he was ‘encouraged’ by the Finance Minister’s response.
Speaking in Grangemouth at the weekend Angus MacDonald MSP said:
“Having lobbied the relevant decision makers at every opportunity, including Finance Minister John Swinney and Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil, who will make the final decision about the TIF bid, I was encouraged by the response I received in the Parliamentary chamber on Thursday.
“It is of paramount importance that every effort is made at the present time to try to influence the outcome of the TIF bid. Many of the projects which would benefit from approval of the TIF include improvements to the Avon Gorge A801 road; improvements at Westfield roundabout/A904; Grangemouth flood defences and developments around the M9 corridor, including a major upgrade of Junction 6, which are long overdue.
“Since my election in May I have raised the proposal with the Finance Secretary John Swinney, Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Futures Trust Barry White and have promoted the pilot at the Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee in the Scottish Parliament.
“If the bid is successful TIF would bring massive capital investment to the area and restore economic growth at a time when we need a major boost to the local economy and significant job creation.
“The Scottish Government already recognises the importance of Grangemouth and the wider Falkirk district to the national economy, generating over £3 billion annually, which will hopefully have some bearing on the final decision".
“A significant factor in the final decision will also be the quality of the bid put together by Falkirk Council, and whether or not it stacks up against other TIF bids from other areas of Scotland.”
“Over the next few weeks I will continue to lobby in the hope that we can secure the TIF pilot for Falkirk district.”
The TIF will work by allowing Falkirk Council to borrow the capital required for these projects on the basis that the resulting investment and the new business rates generated by them exceeds the original amount borrowed.
A final decision is expected within the next few weeks and if successful, work would begin on a full business case allowing work to begin during 2012-13.
The exchange between Angus MacDonald MSP and Finance Secretary John Swinney was as follows:
Flood Defences (Grangemouth)
Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP):
10. To ask the Scottish Government what progress has been made in relation to Falkirk Council’s bid for funding for Grangemouth’s flood defences. (S4O-00247)
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney): Local government has been provided with a fair settlement and the capital allocations, adjusted for the reprofiling of capital support, deliver on the Government’s commitment to maintain local government’s share of the total capital budget at 28 per cent. As part of our continuing partnership working, further meetings will be held with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to discuss the detail of the settlement, including the allocation of provision for major flooding schemes.
Angus MacDonald: The cabinet secretary will be aware of the importance of Grangemouth to the national economy and of the need to protect the area from flooding. He will also be aware of the current tax increment finance bid from Falkirk Council which, if successful, would see part of the TIF funding being used to contribute to the £100 million cost of flood defences. Will he impress on his ministerial colleagues the importance of the TIF bid in our attempts to protect Grangemouth’s residents and nationally important industries from flooding?
John Swinney: I am familiar with the bid that Falkirk Council has made in relation to tax increment finance. The matter is within the ministerial responsibility of my colleague Mr Neil, and he and I have had a number of discussions about the different propositions that are coming forward. An assessment will be undertaken in due course to establish the TIF schemes that are supported in addition to the two that have already attracted Government support: at the waterfront in Edinburgh—or Leith, I should say—and the Ravenscraig development in North Lanarkshire. We will continue to consider those points before Mr Neil makes an announcement.
I should say to Mr MacDonald that the Government values enormously the work that is undertaken at the Grangemouth development. I was pleased to have the opportunity to welcome the investment and commitment given to Grangemouth by the PetroChina development, which was the subject of discussions between the company, and the First Minister and me. We look forward to recognising the importance of the PetroChina development for the health and prosperity of the Scottish economy.