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Doubts Over Stranraer Waterfront Project

DOUBTS have been raised over the scale of the Stranraer Waterfront Project amid fears it will be downgraded to a local project.

Stranraer Business Association, MP Russell Brown and MSP Alex Fergusson are calling on the Scottish Government to come clean over the status of the regeneration plan.

After the shake-up of Scottish Enterprise, projects are to be categorised as local or national.

National projects will be dealt with by the reformed Scottish Enterprise.

But local authorities - who have little experience of large regeneration projects - would be left to spearhead local projects alone.

Business Association Chairman Sam Scobie said the Stranraer Waterfront Project was originally classed as one of 11 regeneration schemes to have national priority.

But he feared the lack of clarity over the scheme's current status could deter investors. He said:

"One big concern is where we are in terms of the Scottish picture.

"Initially we were in a priority area but where do we stand now?"

He said the local business community were concerned that the project could be relegated from national to local importance.

"Where would that leave us in terms of inward investment?" he said.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said:

"A decision has not been made simply down to the fact that the enterprise network reforms are an ongoing process.

"That includes making a decision on certain projects."

But Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said the SNP administration should be clear about how it views the project.

The MP warned, after Scottish Enterprise's £450,000 investment in the Stranraer harbour pontoon project, that the project could lose the remaining £5.5 million of Scottish Enterprise funding agreed in principle.

From the outset the regeneration project was given high priority because it was seen as key to regenerating Wigtownshire's economy. But the reforms to Scottish Enterprise has cast doubts on its future status.

Mr Brown claims cuts to the economic development agency's budget may lead to the project being downgraded to a local project. He said:

"It's become all too clear recently, not least through the woeful council funding settlement which was amongst the worst in Scotland, that Dumfries and Galloway is a pathetically low priority for the SNP.

"And the way they've jeopardised the waterfront plans is further evidence of this.

"If Stranraer was in the Highlands or the northeast of Scotland we would by now have seen SNP ministers rushing to the rescue.

"It's months since the SNP announced their plans to overhaul Scottish Enterprise, which created this mess and uncertainty, but we've had not one single clear answer about what it means for the Waterfront."

Mr Brown said the Scottish Government needed to confirm or deny the fears over the project's status. He said if the scheme was left to the council "with its woeful record on local regeneration", the ambitious plans may not be fully realised.

The MP has now arranged a meeting with finance secretary John Sweeney to get answers.

Following funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise of £1m, work has now started on installing the 50 berth marina pontoons.

This comes after the removal of Sea Container's berthing facilities and the construction of the breakwater at the north end of the west pier in Stranraer Harbour.

Fife-based Donarm Construction have the contract to install pontoon, compplete with power and water supplies, fuel and waste oil facilities, security fencing, CCTV and shower and services facilities.

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