Local MSPs in listening mode to support further job creation
Derek Mackay, the new Member of the Scottish Parliament for Renfrewshire North and West and a former Leader of Renfrewshire Council, has pledged “to work hard to protect jobs and businesses so that our area can flourish”.
Mr Mackay is one of the new collection of nationalist MSPs who emerged triumphant from the May elections to give the SNP an outright majority in the Scottish Parliament.
Hillington Park, which straddles the civic boundary between Glasgow and Renfrewshire, is surrounded by several political constituencies and the recent elections accurately reflect the changed political landscape in our area.
But Mr Mackay’s constituency does not cover the eastern part of the estate, which falls within the Glasgow Pollok constituency, which was retained by Labour’s Johann Lamont.
Other MSPs who might be expected to take something more than a passing interest in the success of Scotland’s largest business location include Hugh Henry (Labour, Renfrewshire South), George Adam (SNP, Paisley) and List MSPs Jackson Carlaw (Conservative) and Patrick Harvie (Green Party).
The Hillington Herald decided to put some questions, to both Derek Mackay and Johann Lamont, about the extent of their interest in the fortunes and future of Hillington Park.
Q When did you last visit Hillington Park?
Derek Mackay: My last official visit was as Leader of Renfrewshire Council at the MEPC offices, as part of the work Hillington has led on Fairtrade initiatives.
Johann Lamont: I have visited the Hillington estate regularly over the years in my capacity as local MSP, most often to meet with individual businesses and most recently to order election material!
Q What was your impression of the estate?
Derek Mackay: In my view the estate is generally well maintained, and there is a wide range of premises with functions and activities going on.
Johann Lamont: I am aware of the estate’s importance in creating employment and delivering services.
Q What do you know about the businesses located there?
Derek Mackay: I am fairly familiar with the businesses located at Hillington, having previously been employed by companies in the Park before my election to public office. Clearly, there are a number of prominent and local businesses located there.
Johann Lamont: I have been happy to pursue issues for individual businesses and would be keen to discuss with local businesses what the challenges facing them are and to explore whether there is a role for me in highlighting their concerns.
Q What do you think are the main problems facing Hillington businesses?
Derek Mackay: Challenges ahead include facing the ongoing financial turbulence that the worldwide recession has created, and ensuring that Hillington remains an attractive destination to do business. Transport links are excellent, but car dependency remains an issue.
Johann Lamont: These businesses will have a far clearer perspective on the key issues and how they should be addressed than I. I would be more than happy to be involved in any forum or group which wished to drive these issues forward.
Q What should/will the new Scottish Government be doing to help?
Derek Mackay: The Scottish Government will continue to support business organisations in nurturing a pro-business economy, investing in infrastructure and transport, and deepening and widening skills to take advantage of the opportunities ahead. As an MSP for the area, I would hope to promote Renfrewshire and Hillington, and work hard to protect jobs and businesses so that our area can flourish. This, of course, must be done in partnership with commerce and councils.
Johann Lamont: There is a key role for the Scottish Government in supporting small businesses and in supporting businesses to create and sustain local employment. Again the expertise and understanding of local businesses need to be harnessed in making demands of the Scottish Government. If the businesses on the estate plan to come together to have their voices heard more effectively, I am happy to be involved.
So, for Hillington Park owners and occupiers alike, and for land managers and developers like MEPC, the political doors seem to be at the very least ajar.
It is already clear that it is in the private sector that jobs are being created. The case for practical government support through the remaining months and years of public expenditure cutbacks needs constantly to be made.
Contact your local MSP by e-mail: Derek.Mackay.firstname.lastname@example.org; Johann.Lamont.email@example.com