Feb 1 2012 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge
LABOUR politicians Pamela Nash and Siobhan McMahon have attacked Scottish Government ministers over the decision not to grant Enterprise Area status to the BioCity site in Chapelhall.
Their comments came in the aftermath of news that all four of North Lanarkshire Council’s bids for newly created enterprise areas had been unsuccessful.
Airdrie & Shotts MP, Pamela Nash, is furious at the decision and she told the Advertiser this week:
“Only a few weeks ago, John Swinney MSP the cabinet secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, attended an event marking BioCity’s involvement in this site.
“However, it has now become clear that he welcomed the development in Chapelhall just as plans were being made to deny the site Enterprise Area status.
“Similarly, our local SNP MSP, Alex Neil, was happy to congratulate BioCity on their rescue of the former Organon site.
“This is a real betrayal of the people of Airdrie and of North Lanarkshire.
“At a time when unemployment is rising in our communities, we need all the help that the Scottish Government can provide.
“I have written to John Swinney to ask that he revisits this terrible decision.
“I have also asked what criteria was used in making the decision that areas such as Irvine, Moray, the Highlands, Edinburgh and Midlothian have been granted this status while Airdrie is left behind.
“Perhaps Alex Neil should spend less time criticising hard working council workers in North Lanarkshire and more time fighting within his own Government for the people who elected him last May.”
It is thought that Enterprise Area status could have provided additional benefits to the area, including reduced business rates, relaxed planning regulations and tax breaks.
Siobhan McMahon MSP also hit out at the decision, saying that it must be reversed by Scottish Ministers.
The MSP continued “At a time when jobs are at a premium, this is a huge blow for the whole area.
“The announcement of BioCity’s involvement in the revival of the former Newhouse plant at Chapelhall injected hope into the local economy.
“At the time, Finance Secretary John Swinney and local MSP Alex Neil were only too keen to take their share of the credit.
“I hope they will be equally keen to explain why the site has now been denied Enterprise Area status.
“Given that the proportion of those claiming jobseekers allowance in North Lanarkshire, particularly amongst those aged 16-24, is considerably higher than in Edinburgh, Moray, Irvine, and Inverness, it is difficult to understand the logic of this decision.
“Whilst I hope that Mr Swinney will reconsider his decision, it is a pity that Alex Neil was too busy attacking hard working council employees to stand up for the interests of those who elected him.”
Commenting on the decision fro the Scottish Government, BioCity Scotland’s Chief Executive, Glenn Crocker said:
“I am pleased to see the Scottish Government's general commitment to the life sciences sector.
“Given that BioCity Scotland is a brand new investment in the sector in North Lanarkshire I am sure it will be only a matter of time before it is also included on the list of Enterprise Areas”.