MORAY’S BID FOR multi-million pound funding through their own ‘City Deal’ to match that of Aberdeen and Inverness is receiving support from the highest levels at the Scottish Government.
That was revealed last week when local MSP Richard Lochhead sought an assurance from Holyrood that all parties involved in the bid at National, Scottish and local level would work closely together.
The ‘My Moray’ region growth bid was launched by early in July by business leaders and Moray Council, the aim being to secure around £250million – equivalent to the ‘City Deals’ secured in many parts of the UK.
At the launch John Cowe, chairman of the development and infrastructure services at Moray Council, said: “We are looking at the future of Moray. It is going to be called ‘My Moray’ and at what each of us wants from it, so the public will be very much involved – we will be asking them what they would like to see in making a fairer, safer and better economy for Moray and building that up for the future.”
Responding to a request from Mr Lochhead, Keith Brown, who is Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, highlighted recent talks already held with officers at Moray Council.
However, he pointed out that the list of targets created in the bid should be wide and embracing areas controlled by Westminster as well as Holyrood. He said: “There has been a collaborative approach so far – but when we get a list of things that are largely in the devolved sector, it limits the potential for a deal.
“If the UK Government wants to come on board – or if it wants to stick with reserved areas – the most balanced proposals are likely to get the greatest support. We are very happy to work with Moray Council and develop its proposals – we hope that the UK Government will be a partner in that.”
Moray’s MP Douglas Ross recently arranged a meeting with Council officials and UK Minister Lord Duncan to update him on the growth deal bid, the MP saying: “As MP for Moray and a member of the governing party at Westminster I am keen to ensure details of the bid are fed in at the highest levels of government to give it the best possible chance of success.”
Speaking of Mr Brown’s comments, Richard Lochhead said: “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 create high-value jobs.
“I am pleased that Keith Brown indicated that he remains committed to working with Moray Council and developing its ideas.”