Business park plan under threat

THE CARNOUSTIE business park proposal could fall by the wayside if funding is not secured warned a local councillor this week.

Carnoustie Councillor Helen Oswald said she was “not confident” about the future of any business park plans for the town.

The plans were dealt a major blow last month when the project received no financial backing under the latest Angus Council budget.

The opposition budget put forward by the SNP in Angus had proposed that £1 million could be found in capital investment to make the project a reality.

Councillor Oswald explained: “The SNP budget of 2010/2011 proposed £1 million to get things going, but when it came to the vote we didn’t win.

“When it came to this year’s budget, the SNP allocated the same amount.”

Councillor Oswald believes that the continued lack of land suitable for businesses is stifling Carnoustie’s economic growth, citing the loss to the town of jam producer Mackays and Pacson Valves.

She said: “I don’t think the 2010 budget was in time to save McKays. The need for employment land is great, and we are losing business. I don’t know how many businesses have not started because of a lack of suitable employment land.”

There are secondary economic impacts to this exodus, which is set to continue if land is not earmarked for development.

Councillor Oswald explained: “Lots of businesses have moved away from the town. Perhaps that is not a loss of jobs, but it is a loss of spending power which is going to be spent now in Arbroath High Street or Dundee.

“There is a knock on effect on shops and cafes, they won’t be so busy and there won’t be so much of a buzz about the town.”

Having missed out on funding in two consecutive budgets the proposal is currently stalled, but Councillor Oswald will press on.

She said: “I’m not confident, that’s a long time we’ve been waiting, the economic situation has changed. I’m always hopeful, but not confident.

“Angus Council has a requirement to provide employment land, speak to land owners and provide suitable land.

“After the election, if I get re-elected, that will be my priority. I will be looking to engage with land owners and developers to look for a way forward.”

Chair of the Carnoustie Business Association Peter Burke is less pessimistic about funding options. He said: “If and when the charitable status of the Links comes to fruition and we see funds flowing into Carnoustie from that it would seem clear that some of the funds should be put towards removing some of the financial blocks. The business community supports the construction of a business park and would hope that any funds generated could be diverted into supporting that.”

The business park, he admitted, would not be the only project looking for funding. He added: “I’m aware that there will be a huge demand for these funds but in the interest of the future economic health of the town it is an important investment. At the moment 40 per cent of the working population have to leave town every day due to a lack of opportunities.”

Twitter: @heraldjohnston