COUNCILLORS ARE PRESSING AHEAD with plans to attract multi-million pound investment to Moray through a ‘city deal’ bid with the UK and Scottish governments.
Councillors used their final meeting before the summer recess to back plans for the region to make a city deal bid – or growth deal as it has also been known – similar to those that have provided a boost to the economies of several Scottish cities.
Among the many project that would benefit from such a deal are plans to create a new business park at Barmuckity in Elgin that it is expected would create up to 4000 new jobs.
Pointing to similar deals that have provided a boost to Aberdeen and Inverness, Councillor John Cowe, the chair of the economic and development committee, said: “Moray is often sandwiched between Inverness and Aberdeen and both have growth funding deals.
“I like to think we are the sweet part of the sandwich and are deserving funding of our own.”
The Council will now run a consultation on the issue starting in July and lasting through until September, allowing local people to have their say on projects that might deserve a slice of city deal funding.
Last night the idea received the full support of Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead, who said: “I welcome the proposal for a Moray Growth Deal and this is a concept I have been pushing for in the Scottish Parliament.
“I’m therefore delighted that progress is being made and that the Council has approved plans to secure a multi-million pound deal to boost Moray’s economy.
“I’ve said in the past that bespoke measures need to be put in place for Moray as the area hasn’t been covered by the Aberdeen and Inverness City Region deals. With one of the lowest wage economies in Scotland Moray would clearly benefit from its own growth deal to build and diversify the local economy and to create high value jobs locally.
“I’ll certainly be doing all I can to persuade colleagues in the Scottish Government to support Moray’s bid and given that Moray generates enormous revenues for the UK Treasury through the Speyside Scotch whisky sector, I hope that the UK Government will also get behind this growth bid.”