Councillor Aileen Morton with Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Cleland Sneddon, Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council, in Edinburgh.
By Julie Millar
‘This will bring benefits for everyone’ – that was the message for the UK Government at the latest Argyll and Bute Rural Growth Deal talks.
Argyll and Bute Council Leader, Councillor Aileen Morton, met with the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, in Edinburgh on 27th June, to discuss progressing the potentially transformational Deal for Argyll and Bute.
Speaking after the meeting, she said: “This was another opportunity to highlight to the UK Government that there really are benefits for everyone in securing a Rural Growth Deal for Argyll and Bute.
“We have been working on a set of proposals which will make a real difference to those who live, work and do business in Argyll and Bute and will also make a significant contribution to delivering national government priorities.
“Our Deal proposals cover the length and breadth of Argyll and Bute. They’re based on the themes of growing, attracting and connecting. We want to create centres of excellence where they can make the biggest difference – for example, engineering in the Helensburgh and Lomond area. Innovation also features heavily with plans focusing on key Argyll and Bute sectors like food and drink, aquaculture and the Marine Science Park near Oban.
As well as developing our local industries we also want to make the most of our outstanding natural resources, with our tourism proposals establishing Argyll and Bute as Scotland’s adventure coast.
“All of this and more means that our Rural Growth Deal really does have it all. As well as delivering for local communities, it delivers for both the UK and Scottish governments, and we hope they’re as ambitious for Argyll and Bute as we are.”
Scotland Secretary David Mundell said: “The UK Government has so far committed more than £1.36 billion of city and growth deal investment to boost productivity and create high quality, well paid jobs across Scotland. It is my personal ambition to ensure that the whole of Scotland is covered by a deal and I welcome Argyll and Bute Council’s hard work to progress proposals to boost the area. The UK Government looks forward to working with partners to help develop plans.”
Argyll and Bute Council formally submitted its Rural Growth Deal to both governments last November. Since then, officers have worked in partnership with colleagues from the Scottish Government and the UK Government to refine the set of proposals and projects which make up Argyll and Bute’s Deal.
Alongside officer activity sits political engagement with both national governments. The Scottish Government has committed to providing 100% growth Deal coverage across Scotland, with successful Deals also featuring investment from the UK Government. Political confirmation of a Deal is followed by negotiations to reach agreement on investment levels and timescales.
After Wednesday’s UK Government meeting, the next stage for Argyll and Bute in securing the all-important political confirmation is to meet with the Scottish Government. Arrangements are currently in hand for talks in August with Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity and who is the ministerial lead for Argyll and Bute’s Rural Growth Deal.
More detail about Argyll and Bute’s Rural Growth Deal can be found at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/rgd