Redman welcomes £50m Rural Growth Deal

Alastair Redman

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Argyll and Bute Council’s new policy lead for economic growth has added his voice to those welcoming the £50million Rural Growth Deal announced earlier this month.

Councillor Alastair Redman hopes that the funding, split between the UK and Scottish governments, can further boost the ‘huge success story’ of the area’s economy.

The deal was clinched on Wednesday October 2, with £25million each coming from the Scottish Government and Westminster.

Councillor Redman, a Conservative who represents Kintyre and the Islands, was appointed as policy lead for economic growth last month, and has joined his fellow councillors in positive receipt of the news.

However, he also warned that challenges also lie ahead for Argyll and Bute, with several areas being key priorities for the cash injection.

Councillor Redman said: ‘This £50million investment from the UK and Scottish Governments is very welcome indeed and much needed.

‘There can be little doubt that our Argyll and Bute economy is a huge success story with key business sectors like food and drink.

‘In particular our world-famous whisky and aquaculture industries, tourism, marine science, defence industries with a focus on engineering [are] all seeing the most potential for growth, but with this success comes many challenges.

‘The main priorities for Argyll and Bute with this new investment will be transport and infrastructure, skills and education, digital connectivity, housing and our growing low carbon economy.

‘While this investment will not resolve all of our constituency’s challenges relating to economic growth it is certainly a welcome step in the correct direction.’

The council said that it is hoped the deal with help attract additional skills, training and learning opportunities, as well as new residents, visitors and businesses to Argyll and Bute.

It is also intended to make more of the area’s natural and built resources, and connect high value business sectors with international markets.

Council leader Councillor Aileen Morton [Liberal Democrat, Helensburgh Central] said: ‘This scale of investment is a transformational vote of confidence in the future of Argyll and Bute.

‘This area has fantastic natural resources, an innovative, skilled workforce, and public and private sector organisations committed to its future success.

‘However, to deliver the change needed to build our economy and with it a sustainable future for Argyll and Bute, we need significant investment.

‘That is what we have achieved through our Rural Growth Deal.

‘Our next step will be to work with the Scottish and UK Governments to prioritise how we put this investment to work for Argyll and Bute.’

And depute leader Councillor Gary Mulvaney [Conservative, Helensburgh Central] added: ‘Securing such significant investment is down to public and private sectors, and members of the public through consultation, working together for the future of Argyll and Bute.

‘It is important to note that this funding will be dedicated to transformational development projects; it cannot be used for day-to-day service delivery.

‘It provides a strong foundation for delivering rural growth deal priorities. This is great news for Argyll and Bute.’