SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today welcomed the First Minister’s announcement that the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency Bill will be brought forward this parliamentary term.
The announcement was made as the First Minister delivered her Programme for Government – which outlines the government’s priorities for the coming year - during a speech to the Scottish Parliament today.
Ms McAlpine – who campaigned for the dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland - said the body will act as a champion for region and deliver support to businesses of all sizes.
The Bill, along with other measures announced today, such as the development of a Rural Economy Action Plan, and improvements to the promotion of Scotland’s Food and Drink industry, will act as a driver to boost the economy in Dumfries and Galloway.
The economy was at the heard of today’s announcements, as the First Minister set out her mission to reach the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spend ever in Scotland, with a commitment to invest an additional £7 billion - over and above existing plans - on schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity and clean energy by 2026.
The South Scotland MSP said she will be campaigning for this sharp rise in infrastructure spending to improve transport infrastructure in the region.
The MSP also welcomed the important announcement that every secondary school in Dumfries and Galloway will have access to counselling services, ensuring vital early intervention and improving young people’s health and well-being.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“The announcement that the South of Scotland Agency Bill will be brought forward in this parliamentary term is great news for the economy in Dumfries and Galloway.
“I have campaigned for many years for the agency and I hope that once in place it can deliver a sea-change for the regional economy. The partnership which precedes it has already utilised some of the £10 million funding towards an Annan Action Plan, aimed at boosting the local economy after the closure of Pinneys.
“The First Minister’s programme signals a major boost for jobs and the economy in the region, including an additional £7 billion infrastructure investment in schools, hospitals, transport and digital connectivity over the next five years. I will be campaigning for the sharp rise in infrastructure spending to help improve our transport infrastructure in the south west.
“We are continuing the major reforms in our health, education and justice systems over the course of 2018-19 – with a significant £250 million extra funding for mental health services, increased support for teachers, head teachers, parents and pupils, as well as a major package of reforms for the justice system, increasing support for the victims of crime and their families.
“Despite Brexit, we will ensure Scotland remains an attractive place to live and work and provide advice and support for those EU citizens already living in Dumfries and Galloway who are dealing with the Tory government’s unfair plans to charge them for the right to live and work here.
“And our global climate change ambition will continue to be matched by realistic action, with £1billion funding in low carbon and public transport over the next year.
“These bold and ambitious plans for the year ahead are just some of the reasons why the SNP is the second biggest party in the whole of the UK.”