Renfrewshire’s Council Leader says the Scottish Government has let the people of Paisley down by snubbing plans to make the town a centre of excellence in creative industries.
Councillor Mark Macmillan proposed in October that Paisley become Scotland’s first-ever town centre enterprise area – and asked Holyrood Finance Secretary John Swinney to make it possible.
Scotland already has 15 similar schemes, based on life science, renewables and manufacturing, allowing businesses within designated sectors to access financial incentives to encourage investment and growth, but none are in Renfrewshire.
And – in a response just received from Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism Fergus Ewing – the government say they won’t back the plans because they think some firms could benefit from reduced business rates without creating new jobs.
Councillor Macmillan said: “It is disappointing that the government in Edinburgh don’t seem to share my ambitions as to what Paisley could become.
“Renfrewshire Council is taking forward ambitious proposals to transform the area’s future by using the town’s outstanding heritage and cultural assets to drive a wide-ranging programme of regeneration over the next decade.
“My suggestion was for Holyrood to support that by creating a new category of enterprise area around creativity and culture – and make Paisley the first of its kind.
“This scheme would have allowed business to make the most of Paisley’s assets – such as our proud textile and architectural legacy, thriving events programme, and the international reputation of the University of the West of Scotland.
“The government’s decision not to back it is a let-down for the people of Paisley as we attempt to establish the town on the map as one of Scotland’s premier cultural and heritage tourism destinations.
“We need the government in Edinburgh to give local councils full responsibility to pursue innovative ideas designed to meet the needs of those areas.
“A great example would be the £1.1bn Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal, which will see seven local authorities taking the reigns on a range of far-reaching infrastructure projects.
“The Scottish Government’s proposals to let councils vary business rates don’t go far enough and won’t address the problems many local ratepayers face – we need meaningful powers to create and implement local solutions.
“In the meantime, we will continue to fight for the best deal for Paisley and Renfrewshire, whether the Scottish Government is willing to support us or not.”