Tele column – 1st September 2017

Inverclyde, an area that is used to being on the receiving end of bad news, has in the last two weeks heard that yet another company, Misco, is pulling out. Personally, I have been in contact with Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and I have spoken to members of the senior management team at Misco. Alongside that, Riverside Inverclyde have been extremely active and are working very hard to retain any jobs that they possibly can. While I appreciate all the hard work that everyone is doing to improve a bad situation and I know Riverside Inverclyde, within their remit, are actively seeking to bring jobs into Inverclyde. Nevertheless, I have grave concerns that existing local business are being taken for granted.

When a company declares it is leaving, it is usually for one of two reasons. Circumstances dictate that it is no longer economically viable to remain and the company or division is being sacrificed for the financial greater good of the rest of the organisation or operating in another geographical area is preferred because Inverclyde has been deemed unsuitable. The first scenario is regrettable and almost always non reversible, the second is a damning criticism of the lack of care we put in to maintaining what we have.

When Harland and Wolff wanted to extend their shipyard in 1917 the Old West Kirk was moved to its current location on the Esplanade. Yet one hundred years later we see Ferguson Marine being squeezed by a fire station that could be located elsewhere. Inchgreen dry dock, earmarked for city deal money, remains dormant while it should be breathing life into our local economy. Instead of leveraging an industrial solution we have committed industrial vandalism by hastily blowing up the cranes that serviced the site.

There are existing companies in Inverclyde that we should be bending over backwards to accommodate and yet we take them for granted until they announce they are leaving the area or reducing their workforce. We need to be proactive and positive and take pride in our local businesses. Inverclyde requires an over-arching industrial strategy that harnesses our natural resources and enables our existing employers to flourish and complement each other. The alternative, managing decline, is a futile waste of time, energy and money which can only lead to one inevitable outcome, a year from now there will be another Misco and one after that until Inverclyde is no more than a commuter belt and our once proud manufacturing base is no more than research material for historians.