Comment: City Deal is still worth it

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In East Renfrewshire Council we have an enviable record of maximising the attainment of our young people in our schools.

We work very hard to ensure our young people do as well as they can in our schools and we try our best to ensure they advance on to positive destinations when they leave school, be that further education at a college or university or into local employment.

The increasingly difficult challenge facing all politicians is in ensuring that our young people can access good quality jobs in the West of Scotland and use their excellent skills and academic qualifications to their full advantage.

It is a tough environment for youngsters nowadays and sadly the days of automatic full employment have gone.

One of the most exciting developments in the last 18 months has been the creation of a West of Scotland wide City Deal.

The City Deal will deliver a raft of capital projects in the West of Scotland area, totalling in excess of £1 billion pounds and create thousands of new jobs in our local area.

In East Renfrewshire we will be able to realise £44 million pounds worth of new capital investment for a council outlay of around £6 million pounds.

In financial terms alone the deal is super for East Renfrewshire, but in practical terms the deal will deliver greatly enhanced leisure facilities in the Dams to Darnley Country Park and create new transport projects such as the strategic M77 corridor and new rail station at Auchenback.

It will also provide local business incubation units to encourage the growth of new businesses in East Renfrewshire.

In short the whole City Deal will generate considerable numbers of good quality new jobs and provide excellent opportunities for our young people to access these new local jobs and thus develop a career in the area they grew up in.

A cynic may say that the most generous City Deal to date anywhere in the UK, financed from the UK Treasury, was driven by a desire to highlight the benefits of being part of the UK and to encourage people to vote No in last year’s referendum.

That may be true, but I do not think we should look this particular gift horse in the mouth.

Whatever the reason for this generous City Deal, it provides the best opportunity in a generation to kick start employment in the West of Scotland area.

City Deal will create wonderful new local employment opportunities for our young people, as well as greatly improving our local transport infrastructure and local leisure facilities.

We should rejoice that the City Deal is coming on stream and I hope that our talented young people who will soon be leaving our schools, colleges and universities take advantage of the new employment opportunities.

Jim Fletcher is Leader of East Renfrewshire Council and can be contacted at the Leader’s Secretary 0141 577 3107; or via Members Services 577 3108 or 577 3143 or on e-mail via jim.fletcher@eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk