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Scottish Enterprise Cash U-Turn

SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE has carried out a dramatic U-turn by granting money for a pontoon at Stranraer harbour - just a day after its board delayed the cash calling for more detailed information.

Last Tuesday the executive board put a halt on the funding because they wanted more proof that the £1million marina project was viable.

On the same day - oblivious to that decision - Dumfries and Galloway Council approved its contribution towards the contract. But that was subject to Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway (SEDG) also backing the installation of the pontoon.

The delay shocked politicians, councillors and the business community amid fears the delay of the key project could jeopardise the waterfront project.

Suddenly, with reports of unrest among officials, SEDG reversed its decision and agreed the £500,000 share- just under half the cost. This means the contract can now be signed with work starting in January.

A SEDG spokesman said: "We are pleased to confirm that funding for the Stranraer Waterfront Pontoon has now been approved by Scottish Enterprise’s Executive Board.

"This will allow us in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council to award the tender for the pontoon immediately."

Jane Cook, Director of Global Connections for SEDG said: "We were able to provide the Executive Board with the information they required very quickly and are delighted they have agreed to support the Stranraer Waterfront project."

A council spokesman said: "The pontoons project is important because it is the next critical infrastructure project in the development of the harbour area specifically and the waterfront regeneration programme in general.

"With the completion of the breakwater we can now move to attracting new harbour users to Stranraer and actively promoting the marina.

"As regards joint usage, given Stena's continuing presence in Stranraer, Stena has confirmed they are comfortable with the marina development so long as the facility and harbour usage is managed in such a way as to not interfere with their normal timetables."

But MP Russell Brown fears the investment in the Stranraer harbour pontoon project by Scottish Enterprise could be the last cash to come from the economic development agency for the entire Waterfront regeneration.

And he warned the ambitious plans could be left to "swing in the wind" as a result of the SNP's reorganisation of Scottish Enterprise.

He claimed SNP cuts to their budget could lead to the Stranraer Waterfront project being downgraded from regional and national significance to a less important local project.

Under the SNP Executive's reorganisation plans, Scottish Enterprise will no longer have responsibility for local regeneration projects as these activities will be transferred to local councils.

Mr Brown said: "It's bad enough that the Waterfront project may be downgraded to a local regeneration project because of budget cuts, and that now the money for the pontoon has been secured, we might not see another single penny of the £8 million of Scottish Enterprise funding approved in principle for the Waterfront project coming to Stranraer."

Mr Brown said he foresaw a potential disaster if responsibility for funding and delivering the entire project rested almost solely with the local authority as a result of moves to transfer Scottish Enterprise's local regeneration activities to councils

He said: "Anybody who has visited Dumfries town centre recently will know the council's record on local regeneration is woefully poor."

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