Greenock Telegraph 28th August 2020

One of the first things the then speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, told me is that there is nothing wrong with repetition. With the current discussions around Inchgreen and Freeports, while we look to see what the world and the workplace will look like post COVID-19, I thought it was time for a quick reprise of Inverclyde and industry.

The days of mass shipbuilding on the Clyde have gone. That is not to say the world doesn’t need new ships but our coast line has been given up to housing, bingo halls, cinemas, swimming pools, retail parks and light industry. All things that are welcome but do not need a coastal location. The logistics of re-establishing ship building has been made harder by these actions. We should be looking at more niche targeted maritime areas. The Caledonian MacBrayne fleet needs overhauled. Not with massive one off boats but multiple basic vessels. And we should be fighting tooth and nail to protect what we have before that too is consumed by a lack of vision. Freeports need to be defined as they do have a reputation for tax evasion. It’s also dubious that they contribute to a national economy therefore government money would be harder to attract. In truth, staying in the single European market was always a better option.

On a recent walk round the cut I was pleased to see new culverts being put in place and investment in the water capture system. I still have hopes that hydro power could return to Inverclyde. However I was disappointed to see how bare the hills remain. As the world wakens up to climate change we should be playing our part in Reforesting the hills and there is a spin off in job creation and supply chain. While we repeat the same stories we must do so with an eye on the future. It’s ours for the making.