Seven months ago, I joined Local Recovery as one of our ambassadors. As well as overseeing organisation operations, the ambassador network plays an essential role in representing Local Recovery across Scotland and engaging with local projects. On the organisational side, I recently took on the role of Treasurer, ensuring that we can continue to expand and work for local communities.
At the core of our mission is getting investment into communities where it can drive real, visible change. Our local economies are vital – but so are the places we live, the amenities we can access and the services we depend on.
I live and work in Inverclyde and have been part of the local business community for many years. On my own front door, we are beginning to see what targeted local support and governments working together with communities can achieve, which is what Local Recovery is all about.
A fortnight ago, the UK Government announced the successful bidders for its Levelling-Up Fund. As part of this, Greenock is to see almost £20 million put towards its masterplan, linking the town centre with its magnificent waterfront, with new space for education, housing and other priorities. An incredible opportunity for the community.
We also saw significant awards to support regeneration in places like Cumbernauld, Dundee and Glenrothes, and this support has been replicated across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
In the last round, the UK Levelling-Up Fund saw investment next-door in Renfrewshire towards the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District springing up around Glasgow Airport. Also, on the other side of the Clyde, backing for Dumbarton’s town centre renewal.
So many of our towns need a new lease of life, but our rural and remote communities should not be overlooked. Places like Fair Isle – set between the Orkney and Shetland mainlands - secured backing for a new ferry and associated infrastructure, guaranteeing this lifeline connection to Scotland’s most remote community and giving the island an opportunity to grow and prosper.
Inverclyde is also part of the Glasgow city region deal – a collaboration between the UK and Scottish Governments working with our local councils that’s seeing significant investment come into Glasgow and the surrounding areas. In areas like mine, this focus on economic growth is essential to deliver new, skilled jobs where the industries of the past have disappeared.
Local is in our name, and local will always be our focus. However, the reality is that development of this level cannot happen without support and positive links with the government at a national level. Bridging that gap and ensuring that local communities are at the heart of these decisions is very much what we do, and I look forward to progressing this as Local Recovery’s treasurer.