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SOUTH OF SCOTLAND ENTERPRISE AGENCY MUST HAVE THE POWERS AND BUDGET TO DELIVER ECONOMIC CHANGE, LOCAL MSP TELLS PARLIAMENT

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Connectivity and Transport told the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 4th September) that the proposed new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency must have the powers and budget to deliver real change.

The local MSP was speaking during the debate on the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, in which the First Minister confirmed that the long overdue legislation to establish the new Agency would be brought before Parliament this year.

Speaking during the debate Colin Smyth said, “As someone who has campaigned for more support for the South of Scotland economy for ten years, I welcome the long overdue legislation to establish the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency-  ironically a decade after the Scottish Government abolished local enterprise agencies in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

“But that legislation must ensure the membership of the Agency is rooted in the South of Scotland, with powers to deliver real change both in enterprise and skills and with a budget to deliver that change. It must also be underpinned by investment in a Borderlands Growth Deal from this year’s Government budget.”

Proposals for a South of Scotland Enterprise and Skills “vehicle” were first published in October as part of the Scottish Governments Enterprise and Skills Review. However, it wasn’t until June 2017 that the Scottish Government confirmed as phase two of the review that they would create a new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland covering the Scottish Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway, with legislation not coming before Parliament until 2018/19, delaying the establishment of the full Agency until 2020- four years after the initial report.

YOUNG’S SEAFOOD SHOULD NOT PROFIT FROM SALE OF PINNEYS SITE, SAYS MSP

Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has said Young’s Seafood should not profit from the sale of the Pinneys site, as he revealed the former seafood factory has been put on the market for a multi-million-pound price tag.

The 150,000 square foot site on Stapleton Road in Annan is now being marketed for sale by Leed’s firm Dove Haigh Phillips, prompting local MSP Colin Smyth to once again urge Young’s to hand over the site, pointing to the fact the factory was now a liability for the company who would face a rates bill of over £110,000 a year when it closes.

It is understood that there are now two remaining interested parties in possibly buying the current site. As the full closure of the factory is now imminent Young’s will be hoping to make a quick sale to make sure that the factory does not sit as a liability on their books.

Colin Smyth said, “As production has now ceased at Pinneys, Young’s will be looking for a quick sale to avoid paying rates on a site they are no longer using. With two interested parties Young’s may will have a say over the future of the site and local economy. I would urge them to show loyalty to the people of Annan, who have shown Pinneys loyalty over four decades and accept the best offer in terms of creating jobs and growing the local economy. This may mean taking the lower financial deal but at the end of the day Young’s should not profit from the sale of Pinneys and the job losses they have caused.”

The local MSP has also written to Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, urging the Government to step up its support for workers including holding a further Jobs Fair in the town. The call comes after it was revealed last week that 2Sisters were creating 200 food processing jobs in Carlisle, which Colin Smyth believes could provide opportunities for some Pinney’s workers.

Production at Pinneys ceased last week with all but 50 employees now left Young’s employment. However, a recruitment drive is now also announced at Carlisle plant – Cavaghan & Gray – after owners 2 Sisters have been awarded Marks & Spencer contracts.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “The top priority in the response to the closure of Pinney’s has been to find and secure alternative employment for every worker and that must continue. The previous Jobs Fair was a success in bringing companies to the area who had actual job vacancies.

Due to the success of the previous Jobs Fair it is essential that another is organised quickly, preferably this month, given that production has now ceased at Pinneys. We heard the news last week that 200 jobs are to be created in Carlisle, workers leaving Pinney’s have the skills and expertise required to fulfil M&S contracts. A Jobs Fair held in the next few weeks would be timely to help as many former Pinney’s workers secure these jobs.” 

Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall said, “As a local Councillor and Chair of Annan Regeneration Steering Group I had the opportunity to attend the first jobs fair in Victoria Halls and due to the success and fantastic turnout I would also strongly support a second jobs fair in the next few weeks as the gates finally close on the Pinneys site.

Also after putting forward the motion that has seen 250k awarded by South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership to fund a team to help and support the Pinneys workforce and develop an action plan I have been involved in identifying a High Street property that can House the team and hope to have this open very soon so that Former Pinneys workers can continue to receive the support needed to get them back into work.”

 

October jobs fair for Annan welcomed by MSP

MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed continued Scottish Government support for former Pinneys workers, as Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing announced he will host another jobs fair in Annan next month.

The Rural Secretary was responding to a question in Parliament from Ms McAlpine asking for an update on the situation at Pinneys.

Ms McAlpine said that she felt Young’s decision to close the site – in spite of incentives offered by the Scottish Government to maintain production while a buyer was found - is a betrayal of the workers and of the wider community.

The SNP MSP said she hoped the announcement that the Scottish Government will host another jobs fair will assure the community they have not been forgotten, and the SNP is committed to finding new jobs for loyal Pinneys workers.

The Scottish Government is now seeking a new investor for the site and discussion are ongoing with a number of interested parties.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said: 

“This is a very disappointing time for the workforce of Pinneys after so many years of loyalty.

“Young’s disregard for the Pinneys workforce is astounding – they should be ashamed of themselves. Quite frankly this is a betrayal of the community.

“It might be cold comfort but the Scottish Government remains committed to finding alternative employment for those who have lost their jobs.

“The jobs fair hosted by the Scottish Government in July was well received with many individuals securing alternative employment as a result.

“I hope that the October event will result in more jobs being found for those who have been made redundant in the months following.”

CBI SCOTLAND AND STUC JOIN FORCES TO HIGHLIGHT UPSKILLING AND RETRAINING NEEDS AHEAD OF PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT

In a historic move, CBI Scotland and the STUC have joined forces to issue a joint letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlining the importance of upskilling and retraining to the future success of the Scottish economy.

Last week the two bodies called on the First Minister to make a significant commitment to improving upskilling and retraining in the forthcoming Programme for Government.

Championing a partnership approach that takes into consideration the needs of both employers and workers, both organisations made clear their commitment to working with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to deliver a vision that works for all.

Speaking about the letter, Tracy Black, CBI Scotland Director, said:

“Building a resilient, inclusive and competitive economy that’s not only fit for the future but can embrace the opportunities offered by changing technologies and automation today, is absolutely vital to our future success - but this has to be managed in the right way.

“With technological change showing no sign of slowing down we need to have a shared vision for what the future of work looks like – one that ensures no-one is left behind, worker or employer. That’s why we’re delighted to have partnered with the STUC to make this a key pillar of our engagement ahead of the Programme for Government.”

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said:

“The nature of work is changing. This poses many challenges for workers and their employers. Workers need secure jobs that are well designed and which allow them to use their skills to the full. Unions have a key role to play in developing responses to technological change that support fair work objectives, allow businesses to flourish and contribute to inclusive growth in Scotland. Where the objectives of unions align with those of the Scottish Government and CBI Scotland when considering the future nature of work, the interest of workers needs to be at the forefront of workplace action and in the national policy debate.”

 

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