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Praise for Moray growth deal

By Alistair Whitfield

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MORAY'S £65million growth deal has received a warm welcome from politicians across the ideological spectrum as well as from various organisations.

The money was committed to the region yesterday following a joint announcement by the Westminster and Holyrood Governments.

Moray Council's leader, Graham Leadbitter, said: "This is the moment we’ve been waiting for since the idea of a growth deal for Moray was first floated.

"This commitment by the UK and Scottish Governments to Moray’s future follows a huge show of support by representatives from across our business and civic quarters, as well as from major industry players, the military, tourism and education sectors.

"Moray is a wonderfully attractive place to live, work, study and visit and the whole purpose of the growth deal is to maximise the desirability of our region."


Cllr Leadbitter (Elgin South, SNP) added: "This announcement is the most critical milestone to date and what we, as a Moray partnership, have been working so hard to achieve.

"In the coming months we’ll be progressing the detailed business cases to reach a final ‘heads of terms’, when the total value of the deal, including all the public and private sector contributions are known."

Moray Council’s Director of Economic Development and Infrastructure, Rhona Gunn, said the moment was a hugely proud day for all of those who have worked in support of Moray’s growth deal.

She said: "This is a game-changer for the region, heralding a new decade of economic progression. This substantial investment in infrastructure will encourage our already considerable industries to grow while attracting new businesses and talent into the region.

"The aim is to create a wealth of employment opportunities for our young people by investing strategically in our already established industries, while aiding expansion into new fields through increased innovation in the area.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise Area Manager for Moray, Donna Chisholm, stated the funding announcement will be welcomed by businesses and residents who’ve contributed their ideas to the deal.

She added: "The public consultation undertaken as part of this deal has been hugely influential in developing the proposed projects, including a greater emphasis on job creation, education, businesses, leisure and recreation facilities."

Gathered for yesterday's announcement at Moray College
Gathered for yesterday's announcement at Moray College

MSP Stewart Stevenson, whose constituency includes the eastern part of the Moray Council area, said: "The Moray growth deal has the potential to be transformational for the region and is a major investment in the area by the Scottish Government, with matching funds from Westminster.

"I’d like to thank all those involved for getting the Moray growth deal across the line, particularly those at Moray Council and their partner agencies.

"Separately from the Moray growth deal, we also have of course huge investment from the Scottish Government in the Inverness to Aberdeen rail link and also the A96 dualling project, both of which will make Moray and Banffshire more accessible and attractive.It’s clear that the North-east is going places under the SNP Government."

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, whose constitunecy also includes Moray, said: "It is a sign of the importance that the UK Government attaches to this project that the de facto Deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington, came to Moray to make the announcement.

"This just shows what can be achieved when all levels of government – UK, Scottish and local - come together and work together in the best interests of the area.

"My congratulations to everyone concerned, and particularly to local MP Douglas Ross who has been so active in making sure that Moray’s case has been put forward at the very highest levels of government."

Meanwhile Mr Ross himself said: “It’s great that we’ve got to this stage after months of relentless campaigning both locally and with the Scottish and UK Governments.

"It demonstrates that the bid for a Moray growth deal was supported by a very strong case for investment in the area and I was pleased to put pressure on Ministers and departments at Westminster to get this deal and the funding for it.

"Just a couple of months ago I arranged meetings with several Secretarys of State and the Treasury and it was obvious how impressed they were with the ambitions of the deal.

"Now it’s been confirmed, we can progress with a variety of projects that will make a big difference to people living and working in Moray.

"Although this is great news which will be warmly welcomed in Moray, the hard work is just beginning for the team and I look forward to working with them along the way.

"We’ve come a very long way and achieved a lot, but there is more to do to ensure the Growth Deal delivers for everyone in Moray."

Graham Leadbitter with Richard Lochhead and the deputy Prime Minister David Lidington
Graham Leadbitter with Richard Lochhead and the deputy Prime Minister David Lidington

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead, who made the announcement on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: "The Moray growth deal will make a real lasting difference to the future of the region and inject confidence into the economy, improving the quality of life for local people.

"Successful delivery of this deal will create new high-value jobs, help safeguard the local economy and strengthen Moray’s communities.

"I am grateful to Moray Council and all their partners for their hard work in getting to this stage, and I recognise the important involvement of the community in developing the deal proposals.

"We will continue our dialogue with our Moray partners on projects that will have a transformative effect on the Moray economy.

"We will announce a heads of terms agreement as soon as possible, which will specify which projects will be supported by this significant joint investment.

"The Scottish Government has so far committed more than £1.7 billion over the next 10 to 20 years to city region and growth deals and related investments across Scotland."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, a Conservative, called the growth deal a "wonderful opportunity".

He added: "The UK Government is working to create opportunities, jobs and long-term growth right across Scotland, and so far have committed £1.39 billion in city and growth deals to achieve this."

The Conservative Councillor group on Moray council also welcomed the announcement.

The group leader Tim Eagle (Buckie) said: “There has been a lot of hard work and discussion on the Moray Growth Deal since I have been in the council and I am delighted it has taken another step further forward.

"Moray has a vibrant local economy and this deal will enable public and private bodies to come together to enhance that and make the most out of what we have to offer.

"When Douglas Ross MP and I met with David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, last year we reinforced the huge importance of this deal for Moray and the real need to invest in the local economy. With this announcement there will be a renewed vigour and I look forward to seeing what the final projects will be as we take this next step."

David Lidington, the deputy Prime Minister, with Moray Conservative councillors yesterday
David Lidington, the deputy Prime Minister, with Moray Conservative councillors yesterday

Cllr Maria Mclean (Elgin North) the Conservative Lead on the Economic Development and Infrastructure committee, said "As a group we have tried to champion the growth deal at meetings outside of Moray including with members of the Scottish Conservatives in Holyrood.

"For something that we have spoken about for so long to take a giant leap forward is very welcome news for everybody in Moray.

"This deal will have far reaching effects that over the years to come will spread into every community in Moray. I look forward to further discussions and working with colleagues on the council to ensure the best possible projects are taken forward."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also greeted yesterday's announcement enthusiastically.

Pearl Hamilton, a Forres-based business owner and member of FSB’s National Council said: "This deal is a shot-in-the-arm for the Moray economy. At a time of low business confidence, this long term planprovides much needed optimism.

"Nine in ten businesses in Moray are small so it is vital that this deal works closely with local operators. FSB looks forward to continuing to work with key partners to ensure the voice of small businesses is heard and that local operators get their fair share of contracts.

"Moray already has high numbers of women in business, and a burgeoning hospitality sector. We need to focus on building up this local economy."

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