Transport tops agenda
Ross wants ‘Scottish Dynamo’ to boost economy
Douglas Ross: ‘more infrastructure spending’
UPDATED 31 AUGUST: Conservative leader Douglas Ross is calling for the creation of a “Scottish Dynamo” to turbocharge the economy and enable it to compete with the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
Mr Ross says the idea would be key to a 30-year plan of investment across the nation, principally in the rail and road structure.
It forms a part of an ambitious jobs and economic recovery plan to be launched in Inverness.
The Power Up Scotland jobs plan, which Mr Ross promised to deliver within a month of his election as Scottish Conservative leader, includes the following policies:
* Sector-specific Job Security Councils to help laid-off workers transition and find skilled work, based on Sweden’s hugely successful retraining programmes.
* A Town Centre Rescue Plan to help small local shops adapt and free up planning restrictions.
* A ‘Scotland First’ procurement strategy to have the government spend more money locally
* A Scottish education guarantee to age 18 and expanded adult learning programmes.
* Community Right to Buy schemes for local pubs and other employers in fragile areas.
* Scottish Enterprise reformed on regional lines and new Rural Growth deals to spread high-quality jobs and business growth across the country.
* A yellow/red card system for businesses who make late payments and bid for public work.
* A new research and development target with better incentives for innovation.
* A Hardship Fund for businesses facing localised lockdowns.
Mr Ross also called on Sunday for accelerated infrastructure investment with proposals for a three-lane M8, a Scottish Smart Travel Card for contactless travel, faster rail links from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness, and a joint UK-Scottish Government infrastructure vehicle.
He said the SNP’s programme for government, to be announced on Tuesday, “must focus on how we recover from this crisis, protect jobs and rebuild Scotland’s economy from the brink.
“It should be a programme to invest in infrastructure and connect communities across the country, leaving nowhere behind.
“Scotland has been too divided for too long, not only constitutionally but economically too. We need a massive acceleration of infrastructure projects to bring people across Scotland closer together.
“These proposals would better connect businesses across the country and boost productivity, delivering more money for public services and bringing more high-quality jobs to towns and cities that often get overlooked in favour of Edinburgh.
“We need to take power back from the government in Edinburgh and put power in the hands of people and communities across Scotland. We can do that by making it just as easy and attractive for a business to set up in Inverness as in Glasgow.
Douglas Ross’s proposals:
“We need a long-term strategic vision but it must begin now. We cannot wait any longer to plan a stronger Scottish economy. With both our governments pulling together, Scotland can build back better.”
SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “The First Minister will put Scotland’s health and economic recovery from COVID-19 at the heart of the Programme for Government this week. In the meantime, Douglas Ross’s empty rhetoric gets us nowhere.
“The most useful thing the Scottish Tory leader could do is lobby his Westminster bosses to extend the furlough scheme before the loss of up to 200,000 Scottish jobs, demand a vital package of support for the millions of forgotten freelancers who have yet to receive a penny in support from the UK government and get behind SNP calls for support to those are forced to rely on UK welfare benefits.
“Or he could focus his attention on getting the UK Treasury to put its hand in the coffers and protect the Scottish economy from the impending disastrous impact of a Brexit future that Scotland didn’t vote for.
“Of course, Douglas Ross knows the polls show trust in the SNP Scottish Government head and shoulders above Boris Johnson’s disastrous Tory government in Westminster.
“Whilst he spends his time trying to politicise the recovery from COVID, the SNP will get on with the job of delivering for the people of Scotland.”