THE case for voting Liberal Democrat has never been stronger than it is now. The fiscal deficit left by Labour has made a reduction in the number of public sector jobs available locally inevitable.
If this area is to be prosperous in the future, then the private sector needs to be given the support it requires to grow and create new jobs. The Liberal Democrats, more than any other party, are committed to creating the conditions necessary for growth.
By refinancing the debt of Scottish Water, we would release at least £1.5 billion for investment in the Scottish economy. This allows us to finance schemes to stimulate the economy that are several times larger than those proposed by Labour or the SNP. For areas that contain pockets of high unemployment, like Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, this investment will be vitally important.
We would set up Regional Development Banks to ensure that local businesses are able to access capital. A fund of £500 million would be made available to help small businesses to take on extra staff. A total of £250m would be used to accelerate home insulation across Scotland.
This will help cut emissions and household bills, as well as creating jobs. Another £250m will be used to bring high-speed broadband to every part of Scotland. This, in itself, will create an estimated 20000 jobs.
A further £250m will be used to support world-leading research in our universities and to help businesses to bring these new developments to market. In total, we aim to create 100,000 jobs across Scotland.
The remaining £250m from Scottish Water would be invested in early intervention. All the evidence shows that spending money in the early years saves money later on.
Our £250m fund would be available for organisations who deliver services for children and parents in the early years to transform the services they provide. The end result should be that many more of our children are able to get on and make something of their lives.
Cutting through everything that we propose is a recognition of the importance of local control over services. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are alone in opposing the creation of a single police force and a single fire and rescue service. We believe that it is vital that the police are accountable to, and shaped by local communities and not placed under the political control of a minister in Holyrood. Seven out of eight chief constables in Scotland agree with us.
There is a clear choice in this election between more top-down centralisation and unnecessary austerity under Labour or the SNP, and local control and investment under the Liberal Democrats.
The agenda that we’re putting forward contains the solutions that Scotland needs. Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley needs the investment that we propose more than most parts of the country. That’s why I hope that you’ll give your support for our proposals when you vote.