Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown has accused Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of being out of touch over the regeneration of Stranraer Waterfront.
His comments came after Ms Sturgeon claimed Dumfries and Galloway Council had allocated “funding of £2.4 million to develop a further breakwater”.
The SNP MSP made the claim when responding to a letter from Mr Brown calling on the Scottish government to invest in the regeneration of Stranraer waterfront and inviting her to visit Stranraer in her role as chairwoman of the Stranraer Task Force.
Mr Brown said: “It is frustrating that the Deputy First Minister won’t visit Stranraer until April, more than seven months after being appointed chair of the Stranraer Task Force, but even more worrying that she is so out of touch that she doesn’t even know what is actually happening on the ground.
“To say that the council has agreed to invest £2.4 million in projects including a breakwater is simply untrue. The point she clearly misses is that the council doesn’t have the money to invest in the breakwater even if it wanted to. So far the council has invested part of the £2.4 million available on a range of projects such as the refurbishment of the West Pier and if it goes ahead with agreeing to spend over £1 million on a slipway, which the council coalition wants to happen, then that will pretty much use up what limited funding it has available.
“We know that the Scottish government withdrew £8 million of funding that should have gone to the waterfront by virtue of it originally being a designated national project by Scottish Enterprise and it is hugely disappointing that in her reply Nicola Sturgeon did not allocate a single extra penny to the regeneration of Stranraer.
“The Scottish government needs to reinstate that £8 million commitment or the regeneration of the waterfront simply won’t get off the ground.”
Stranraer and North Rhins Labour Councillor Marion McCutcheon added: “I hope that when the Deputy First Minister visits Stranraer she not only gets up to speed on what has actually been agreed by the council so far in relation to the waterfront but, more importantly, she sets out what investment the Scottish government intends to make.
“I have said several times that we will only regenerate Stranraer if everyone works together.
“So far the council has allocated £2.4 million but the task force and the Scottish government haven’t played their part in the regeneration. We know that the range of projects being discussed to regenerate the town far outweighs the funding available from council.
“That’s why there has been such a debate on about whether the waterfront or the wider town should get funding and this has been a distraction because both need investment. That will only happen if the Scottish government starts to get behind Stranraer with some real investement.”