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Lords back Ayrshire Growth Deal

Lords back Ayrshire Growth Deal with open letter to Chancellor

A GROUP of high-profile Lords have thrown their weight behind the ambitious Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals.

In an open letter to the Chancellor Philip Hammond MP – ahead of this month’s Autumn budget – Lord Strathclyde says the deal provides ‘a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the performance of the Ayrshire economy and is vital for the future prosperity of Ayrshire’.

The letter is supported and signed by an all-party group of Lords: Lord Lang of Monkton, Lord Moynihan, Lord Browne of Ladyton, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock and the Earl of Glasgow.

In the letter, the Chancellor is asked to back Ayrshire and commit to the Deal when he makes his Budget Statement on 22 November.

It says: “The Ayrshire Growth Deal is supported by both the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

“It would be the first non-city deal supported by the UK Government in Scotland and is a superb opportunity to apply a successful approach to growth to a more rural and challenging area.

“It already has the formal support of the Scottish Government and the three Councils have invested substantially both in early work on the projects of the Growth Deal and in developing their joint working in economic development. These commitments will ensure that UK Government spend on the Growth Deal will be genuinely additional.

“The UK Government now has the opportunity to work with the Ayrshire partners and add real value to stimulate economic growth and tackle inequality. “

The Ayrshire Growth Deal is targeting approximately £350 million of funding from the Scottish and UK governments to develop a number of transformational projects across the region.

The Ayrshire Growth Deal team – which includes representatives from East, South and North Ayrshire Councils, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and other partner agencies – have been working tirelessly to build a case for investment in Ayrshire.

Meanwhile, the HALO project in Kilmarnock has secured around £9m of investment – £5.3m from the Scottish Government and £3.5 from the UK Government.

This investment formed a key part of the Growth Deal proposals. Thanks to this funding, the £25 million first phase redevelopment – which is also backed by funding from East Ayrshire Council and the private sector – is taking shape. The HALO development will feature a low carbon development which will include affordable housing, as well as an enterprise and innovation hub for business start-ups, a renewable energy centre and commercial and leisure units.

The Ayrshire Growth Deal also provides the prospect for funding to support – among other things – the development of the UK’s first licensed spaceport at Prestwick Airport. This will help positively and competitively position the UK for success within the developing space industry, delivering significant benefits.

Funding will also ensure support for UK growth in the other sectors where Ayrshire is strong – primarily medical manufacturing and engineering –while providing the infrastructure and support to make Ayrshire businesses even more innovative and international in their outlook.

In a series of hard-hitting points, Lord Strathclyde outlines why Ayrshire deserves significant funding.

He says that Ayrshire is ‘one of the only areas in Scotland without a Growth Deal’ and ‘Ayrshire is facing socio-economic challenges with unemployment consistently higher than the rest of the UK and Scotland’.

But Lord Strathclyde goes on to write that, with investment, Ayrshire can be ‘a vibrant, outward-looking, confident region, attractive to investors and visitors with world-class digital and physical infrastructure and offer a better quality of life’.

And he added: “The Ayrshire Growth Deal will provide significant investment in the key sectors of aerospace and space, life sciences, manufacturing and tourism. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the performance of the Ayrshire economy and is vital for the future prosperity of Ayrshire.”

Patrick Wiggins, Director of the Growth Deal team, is delighted to have secured the support of prominent Lords and is hopeful the bid will receive positive news in the Chancellor’s Budget.

He said: “From the outset, we’ve received fantastic support – there is a real sense that our Growth Deal is a fantastic opportunity for not only Ayrshire but for the Scottish and UK economies.

“We’ve continually received cross-party backing and now it’s great that these prominent Lords have shown their support. We are all optimistic that the Chancellor will recognise the massive potential of the Ayrshire Growth Deal in his Autumn Budget.”

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