The case to set aside £250,000 of funding from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP) to help mitigate any job losses from Pinneys, was made to Scottish Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse last night (Wednesday 2 May)
Annandale South Councillor and Chair of the Annan Regeneration Steering Group, Sean Marshall, urged the Minister at a meeting in Annan Town Hall arranged to update stakeholders on the work of a Scottish Government and Council Action Group, to sanction the request for funding. Councillor Marshall believes the funds should be to used to establish an action team based in premises on Annan High Street to work to secure jobs in the Annan area.
The request came as a result of a motion from Sean Marshall at Monday’s meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council. The request will initially go before members of the Economic Partnership at their meeting next week, although the final decision on how the partnership spends its £10m budget has to be made by Scottish Government Ministers.
Sean Marshall said, “My message to the Minister was very clear. We need a dedicated team in place in Annan urgently to look at ways in which new jobs can be created, either by expanding existing businesses or bringing new ones to the area. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to explore options for the future of the Pinneys site itself. However, the clock is ticking, so the work I proposed needs to start urgently and that team needs to be in place sooner rather than later”.
The case for the £250,000 to be released will also be made by South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth when he meets SOSEP’s Chairman Professor Russel Griggs tomorrow (Friday 4 May). Meanwhile Councillor Marshall, along with South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh and Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson met with representatives of Unite the Union earlier in the week at Pinneys and the message from the workforce was clear- we need action not just words.
Commenting on the discussions with the workforce representatives MSP Colin Smyth said “The workforce want to see real action, not just meetings and it was good to hear their backing for the move to secure funding and that’s why I’ll press the case with the new Economic Partnership. The 45-day consultation is proceeding at a pace and it is literally just a couple of weeks before Young’s will make their final decision on the future of the Pinneys site. Whilst everyone is working hard to try to convince Young’s to change their mind, the workforce representatives are realistic about the likelihood of this. They have also seen the various reports about potential buyers and the fact that even if a buyer is found, the number of jobs that could be retained may well be very significantly less than the current number. That makes the need to try to bring additional jobs into the area even more urgent.”