New First Minister invited to Inverclyde

NEW First Minister John Swinney has been invited to Inverclyde in a bid to attract jobs and further investment in the area.

Council leader Stephen McCabe wrote to Mr Swinney shortly after he took office on Wednesday 8 May 2024 to congratulate him on his appointment and to make the case for more funding to address the area’s social and economic challenges.

Councillor McCabe has specifically asked Mr Swinney for greater support from the Scottish Government to help attract jobs to Inverclyde following the announcement by telecoms giant EE that the company’s Greenock base will close later this year with around 450 jobs relocating to Glasgow.

That means around 1,200 jobs have been lost locally in the space of 18 months. 

Councillor Stephan McCabe
Councillor Stephen McCabe

Mr McCabe said: “I have worked closely with John Swinney in the past, particularly in my previous role with COSLA, and I wish him the very best in his new role as Scotland’s seventh First Minister.

“I know John has a lot of pressing issues at hand and his inbox will be packed already, however my priority is Inverclyde and ensuring the best for this area.

“We don’t have our challenges to seek in terms of health inequalities, alcohol and drug dependencies, and lack of employment opportunities and I’m sure John and his government share our desire to make improvements for existing residents and businesses and to create opportunities to attract more families and enterprises to the area.

“As a council, our powers and finances are limited and we need greater support from the Scottish Government to help make Inverclyde an even better place to live, work, visit, and do business and I would be delighted to welcome our new First Minister to Inverclyde to discuss how we can work together to deliver meaningful change.”

The full text of Cllr McCabe’s letter to Mr Swinney is as follows:

Dear John,

Congratulations on your appointment as the seventh First Minister of Scotland.  I don’t think any of your predecessors was better prepared for this role.

I hope one of your priorities will be to repair the relationship between local government and the Scottish Government, which has been badly damaged by the imposition of yet another regressive and financially irresponsible Council Tax freeze by your immediate predecessor and other significant breaches of the Verity House Agreement by his Ministers.

My immediate priority, however, is jobs in Inverclyde.  Over the last 18 months or so around 1,200 job losses have been announced by local employers, the most recent being the proposed relocation of the EE call centre from Greenock to Glasgow removing 450 jobs from the local economy.

Last August I wrote along with local MSP Stuart McMillan to your Government requesting a package of financial support to help us address the underlying economic challenges we face.  To date there has been no commitment to any funding.

I have also invited several of your Ministerial colleagues – Neil Gray, Richard Lochhead and Mairi McAllan – to visit Inverclyde to discuss these challenges but to date no visit has taken place.

Following the announcement by the BT Group of the proposed closure of the EE call centre I asked Ministers and Government officials to work with us to develop a financial package aimed at trying to convince BT to change their decision or attract a new company to take over the EE building.  To date the engagement from your Government has been very disappointing.

Mr Yousaf did write to the Chief Executive of the BT Group on 17 April about EE.  I would ask that you go further and seek an urgent meeting with Ms Kirby to discuss this matter.  Transferring 450 jobs from one of the most deprived areas of Scotland to our biggest city is contrary to your Government’s inclusive growth agenda.  It is also contrary to your Government’s aspirations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I would welcome your direct intervention in the other issues I have highlighted in this letter, and I would also invite you to visit Inverclyde at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss the social and economic challenges we face and how we can work together to address them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Stephen McCabe   

Leader of the Council