Fans of the comedy series The League of Gentlemen will be familiar with the phrase ‘a local shop for local people’. Well without their black humour or any sense of irony I am happy to say local land should be utilised in the best way possible for the local community. Since the Charter of the Forests, published in 1086 at the same time as the Magna Carta, it has been a widely held view that land, sea, wind, water are most productive and better managed when the benefits can be shared. Locally, in Inverclyde, we have seen Inchgreen dry dock practically mothballed for years while ship repair work goes elsewhere. And we have watched as the Spango Valley, once a hub of activity, an incubator to burgeoning careers, an employer of thousands of locals, became a ghost town and eventually was demolished and cleared. Over two years ago I asked Inverclyde council to get involved in regenerating the valley. My vision was for a centre of excellence for renewable energy technology. This has not come to fruition for a number of reasons. Some of which are understandable, others are not. Next Tuesday (4th December 2018) seventy acres of the Spango Valley come under the hammer at auction in London. The reserve price is £500,000. I have talked to the current owners, Canmore, and kept them informed of developments for the best part of three and a half years. I am extremely disappointed that they did not approach me first to see if a local person or persons were interested in buying or bidding for this land. The limited timescale now means that assessing the land and its potential, determining its current condition and raising the money is almost impossible. Whatever happens to Spango Valley and whoever the new owners are, Inverclyde council must immediately enter discussions with them to get the Valley back to being a productive asset for our community. Be it Renewables or as Stuart McMillan MSP has suggested a site for film production companies, it can’t be another example of land banking, left dormant while this area is crying out for jobs.
(Picture courtesy of George Munro, Greenock Telegraph)