Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
MONDAY 3 DECEMBER 2001
JOHN C SHELDON
40. All of us have been impressed by the very
high level of cooperation between the councils, yourselves and
British Waterways Scotland. If there is cooperation and success
there must be tension with all of that working. What are the tensions
between all of you?
(Mr Thom) I certainly think one of the tensions was
the pace of the programme, it was quite challenging, actually,
to manage the planning permission and the road traffic issues,
they are in the past actually, that was challenging at the time.
We set up a special group that fast tracked the programme so there
was an adequate period of time to push through the changes and
the decision making, that was quite challenging. I must admit
it was all done in a reasonable spirit.
41. I am sure all of us are very encouraged
to see the level of cooperation from the councils with British
Waterways Scotland and I am sure this project will be a successful
project. Particularly I think Mr Campbell will be very happy that
he has pulled the support from Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City
Council, that will definitely be a success. My question is to
West Dunbartonshire Council, I believe that West Dunbartonshire
Council wish to contribute in the form of land transfer to British
Waterways Scotland and I believe negotiations are taking place.
Have you made the decision yet or are you still in negotiation?
(Mr Henderson) The Council have made a decision, it
is not just a matter of the land. The Chip Boat generates a very
significant revenue income, so there is a value in that, it is
not just a straightforward land transfer.
42. Has the deal been completed? Why is it taking
(Mr Henderson) The preceding question from Mr Lyons
was perhaps an interesting one, I think it is fair to say that
there have been difficult times over the course of the last year,
or so, when the Millennium Link work has been proceeding and,
perhaps, British Waterways and ourselves have not been able to
see eye to eye on a number of occasions. However, I am fairly
confident we will be able to get on and conclude the matter now.
43. Is there a problem with the Chip Boat?
(Mr Henderson) There is a difference in valuations
basically between what our valuation of the asset was and what
British Waterways value of the asset was.
44. How far along the line of coming to a settlement
(Mr Henderson) Very far along the line, we have come
much closer to British Waterways way of thinking, now that project
is about finished.
45. A few of you have mentioned about the job
creation and regeneration and I would like to ask a question on
that, have you actually received the anticipated regeneration
and the jobs? Have you looked at the fact that you might only
be moving jobs from one area to another? Clydebank itself, West
Dunbartonshire, did suffer with the retail park, and obviously
Braehead. One of my fears is, and my colleagues have the same
fears is all we are doing is moving things in regeneration back
along the canal and we move them, perhaps, from other areas and
in effect we do not create jobs. Have you looked at that?
(Mr Henderson) If I can briefly respond to that. Mark
Lazarowicz's point was a very good point, it is not an exact science,
the number of jobs we are going to come up with here, some are
loosely associated to the canal, others will be directly attributable
to work along the canal. There is a risk there may be a bit of
a movement of jobs from one source to another. There are, undoubtedly
areas where new jobs will be provided. I think the point that
was made about having clear criteria and having some way of determining
which are newly created jobs is important. There will definitely
be new jobs created in relation to Bowling, which is at the western
end of the canal, there will be new developments in Bowling because
the canal has been reopened. There is no doubt there will be new
jobs created, but it will be a matter of trying to be as accurate
as we possibly can be in identifying precisely what we have managed
46. Can I ask, does that mean as councils, when
you are doing your part of your areas development, you are talking
to Glasgow City Council and Glasgow City Council are talking to
East Dunbartonshire and working their way up to Edinburgh Council?
(Mr Inch) There are two question, the first question
was, has the canal delivered regeneration benefits? The answer
is no and we would not expect it to because I think it is in the
nature of these projects you do the work and then the benefits
flow, the benefits only flow if you take advantage of the opportunity
and work it. As I said in my introductory comment, we produced
a canal strategy, which is working its way through the council
system at the moment, and that identifies opportunities. Those
opportunities are in our Departmental Service Plan, which requires
us to report back to the council once a year, so we will have
that monitoring evaluation mechanism built in. I also mentioned,
I think, in my preamble that we are in negotiations with a developer
who wants to develop a difficult site in New Street in Glasgow.
The developers and companies in Glasgow north want to stay in
Glasgow north, so it not only moving the chips that are in the
boat, it is actually building for growth that wants to come through
and the stay in the area.
(Mr Thom) I think displacement is an issue. The canal
does offer a unique opportunity. Part of our strategy is to link
business creation in with the whole project, like the Kirkintilloch
Initiative. We are looking at generating new business that takes
advantage of the new opportunities on the canal. If you can do
that you cannot talk about displacement, you are generating new
activities which adds to the whole cycle.
47. Taking up the points which are being developed
in this discussion, I notice in the introduction to the local
authorities paper Mr Thom points out that public agencies cannot
create jobs unless they are required. I wonder if it is possible
to give some indication of how successful to date indications
are of success to date, or in the pipeline, of stimulating private
sector activity to do with the actual unique feature of the canal
itself? I do not mean so much the associated regeneration development
projects which happen to be alongside the canal such as shopping
centres which make use of an attractive location, but commercial
activities relating to the canal itself in terms of boats, that
kind of area. How much is happening there? Are we actually creating
private sector jobs there?
(Mr Thom) I think this whole project is on slow burn
and I think some of the issues that were raised by British Waterways
appear in that. Getting a hire firm on to the canal that was generating
activity on the canal would be a significant achievement itself,
it is part of the package of proposals. Those kind of larger projects
that will come from the development will be hard to pull off,
but they are being worked on. The other issues about private sector
investment, you have to put a platform down and attract in the
private sector. The only way they will come in is if they see
a viable opportunity. As a selling job they need that done there.
A very good example is we had what was called a Canal and Coppers
day. The canal is next to the new police station and there was
an event in August and it was really difficult to get local traders
to acknowledge this Sunday in August and keep their shops open.
There is a bit of work, we have to do that, we are doing that,
to educate, in the best possible sense, the private sector about
the opportunities that are round.
48. Strathclyde European Partnership said that
one of the conditions attached to the provision of European money
was that British Waterways should work with development companies
to maximise the training and employment opportunities for residents
of SIP areas adjacent to the canal. However, Scottish Enterprise
noted that "the number of trainee places originally forecast
is unlikely to be achieved due to the fact that much of the work
being undertaken was skilled with little opportunity to engage
trainees." Are any of the other local authorities involved
in the Millennium Link helping to develop training projects along
the lines of the Glasgow model? Have the training opportunities
linked to the development of the canal lived up to expectations?
(Mr Inch) I repeat there are currently training programmes
being developed which will last for two years in Glasgow, which
will focus on the recruitment of long term unemployed residents
on SIPS, mainly in Glasgow north and I also hope Drumchapel, that
will be 60 individuals each year.
(Mr Henderson) The West Dunbartonshire Social and
Inclusion Partnership has worked with a local group known as Greenlight,
who are based in Alexandria, and they have provided a considerable
number of training opportunities. However, this is to date not
related to the canal project, it is hoped that we will be able
to extend their activities over the course of the coming years.
We have to appreciate that this is only the first few months that
the Millennium Link Forth and Clyde canal has been open. I am
confident that there will be a number of opportunities for more
training projects in the coming years.
(Mr Baker) I think there is an expectation that the
local community will get something out of the canal, they will
have ownership of it and that will improve their employment prospects.
Certainly I think one of the strengths of this type of project
is that we can learn there are good projects, even in Glasgow.
We can take forward their model, build on it, produce best practice.
There are a range of projects that we are currently looking at.
There is an expectation there, both ourselves and other agencies
we have to develop a training programme and access to employment,
not just in the area itself but access to employment where employment
is created. The strength of this project is that it will help
areas like Wester Hailes to look outward, to look at the potential
of the canal and Link to actually create employment opportunities
and development opportunities. Certainly we would want to build
on the best practice of the local authorities.
(Mr Thom) We do not have a SIPs area. We were certainly
involved in developing a demonstration project with young people
to try and see a barge building project brought back on to the
canal, that is in the next development phase, which will obviously
employ local young people in that kind of project.
49. As somebody who has two SIPs in his constituency
that is something which is very important to me, it is good to
see Glasgow leading the way as always. My question is obviously
to Glasgow City Council in that respect, did the north Glasgow
pilot learn a bit from it, the canal training was part of it,
and the employment project itself? Can you see how it is all linked
now? How we can progress it between canal training employment
projects and the Millennium Link?
(Mr Inch) I think there is an opportunity to build
on each of those things and that should make the whole the better
than the sum of the parts. The Millennium Link project is finished
in its current form and there are huge opportunities for additional
work to do that. When you finally get a copy of this as an elected
member you will see how we have split the canal up and identified
all of the opportunities all of the way in. Each of those stretches
identify areas where we think there is scope for environmental
improvement, for stopping off points to be built. There is a huge
flow of work going to come out of this. All of that, I think,
is quite relevant for establishment of the training initiative.
What we have done is the tip of what could be the iceberg.
50. You have gained a lot of knowledge from
(Mr Inch) Yes.
51. In the end are you going to use it to create
jobs in other areas?
(Mr Inch) Yes. I think it is a launching point to
do some innovative and imaginative forms of training.
52. I have a question for Mr Dunlop, thinking
of development round the Wheel itself, could you just say how
you would imagine this is a medium to long term development proceeding
in such a way that it maintains some benefit for the people in
the adjacent areas and also how would Falkirk hang on to some
of the 250,000 visitors that are currently projected to visit
the wheel as opposed to them visiting somewhere else?
(Mr Dunlop) Yes. You may or may not know that very
recently agreed through the council are development framework
for not just the Wheel site but all of the way, including Camelon
right down to the Rose Bank site, and that has a 10 to 15 year
plan which is comprehensive in its nature and covers a vast range
of developments, including all of the bits that you described
as ragged. There is something in it for everyone here in terms
of the development plan. It is very much based on how people are
included within the development and how we maximise the use of
derelict sites, so in the whole area standards are raised substantially.
I think the second point, how do we make sure that whatever number
of tourists come to the site, we maximise those through the other
experiences we have on offer is key to this. Certainly the Park
and Ride gives us an opportunity, we will have our hands on the
visitors and we can offer them a journey through the Falkirk area
and packages of services and opportunities that will , as you
say, make sure they go through our facilities and our services
and our town centres rather pitching up and going straight away.
I would build on a point that John Robertson mentioned, the issue
of, are we merely displacing jobs, because I think certainly for
Falkirk and the Millennium Link for us it is key to repositioning
not just Falkirk in the central belt, because it adds a massive
new development there. Let us not forget the tourist industry
is straining at the moment. There are massive declines in the
number of visitors that we have and therefore there will be a
number of people in jobs in the tourist area at the moment whose
jobs will be under pressure over the next number of years and
therefore sustaining jobs and repositioning jobs in that difficult
environment is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly we see the
Millennium Link not just behaving and acting on its own but certainly
fitting into a broader central belt theme and maximising that
and making sure when people come to visit us we have a range of
projects that will make sure they stay, and importantly come back.
Mr Carmichael: Quite a few of the local authorities
submissions make reference to a request which came for an additional
£1.8 million following a shortfall in European funding. The
one I have in front of me is West Dunbartonshire, but there are
other references to it. Simply, and as briefly as you can, can
you tell me how that came to be?
53. One of the features of this report from
the different authorities is it is quite useful to see the approaches
taken by different authorities to compare and contrast. In that
context I was interested that the section from West Lothian is
perhaps a little embryonic compared with some of the other local
authority contributions, and I put the point to Dr Sheldon. I
wonder if that particular authority has yet made plans to take
full potential from the canal? I wonder if more potential could
be realised in that area? I would appreciate a comment on that
now or in due course?
(Mr Thom) Can I make comment on the first one, the
simple answer is I do not know why there was a shortfall. The
£1.8 million that was necessary was part of British Waterways
programme, as I understand it. Correct me if I have the wrong
end of stick here, we responded to that. It is difficult to answer
that question specifically.
(Mr Henderson) They did not get as much grant from
Europe as they expected to get. They did not get as much money
from Europe as they anticipated.
54. From the point of local authorities?
(Mr Henderson) It was not just the local authorities,
it was everybody.
55. Everybody picked up part of the tab?
(Ms Linton) Just to clarify, there was a shortfall
in the European Funding. Scottish Enterprise and the local authorities
made that up in a proportion we agreed amongst ourselves.
(Dr Sheldon) It does look rather thin, half a page
compared with some of the others, but Broxburn does not have the
same attractions as Falkirk and so we have to ensure that we attract
these visitors and get them to West Lothian venues.
Chairman: Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman,
for your cooperation and assistance today, which will be greatly
useful to us.