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ELECTION 2021: Ministers told to stop 'dragging heels' over freeport bids


By Alan Beresford

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SCOTTISH ministers have been told “time is of the essence” to kick-start a north-east freeport bid.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast Conservative candidate Mark Findlater: "Time is of the essence" for freeport bids. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Banffshire and Buchan Coast Conservative candidate Mark Findlater: "Time is of the essence" for freeport bids. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

In line with recent analysis by several ports in England, Scottish Conservative candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Mark Findlater, estimates a north-east trade hub would be broadly comparable to Teeside’s 18,000 jobs, between Felixstowe and Harwich’s 13,500 and Thurrock’s 25,000.

He believes that it could deliver around 20,000 new jobs and “strap a rocket” to Scotland’s pandemic recovery.

Mr Findlater went on to urge Scottish Ministers to stop “dragging heels” to assist Scottish bids to the freeport process.

Writing to trade minister Ivan McKee, he said: “Across the UK, freeports are expected to deliver large-scale investment and new jobs.

“I have read recent studies on the immediate economic benefit to regions elsewhere in the UK. If Teeside delivers 18,000 new jobs and Thames 25,000, I would suggest a north-east freeport would deliver at least 20,000 new employment opportunities, based on modest estimates.

“Unfortunately, there has been a no-doubt-unintended consequence to the government’s sluggishness in the bidding preparation process.

“Scotland’s ports have undoubtedly been left behind in the process as a result of dragging heels.

“The bidding process for England started in November last year, and we need to get this moving or else all those much-needed jobs could be at risk.

“The Scottish Conservatives support a freeport in the north-east, and the next Scottish Parliament would have our help to making this a reality. But time is of the essence.”


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