Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 56 - 59)




  56. Good afternoon, gentlemen, thank you again for your attendance. Perhaps you would like to introduce yourselves first?
  (Mr McLaren) I am Gordon McLaren, Chief Executive of the East of Scotland European Partnership.
  (Mr McGilp) Good afternoon, I am Niall McGilp, Director of Competitive Locations, Scottish Enterprise Network.
  (Mr O'Connor) Good afternoon, my name is Mike O'Connor from the Millennium Commission.
  (Mr Russell) Good afternoon, my name is Laurie Russell, I am Chief Executive from Strathclyde European Partnership.

  57. Can I ask you first, are the four bodies satisfied with the development of the Millennium Link project and the way the money is being spent?
  (Mr McGilp) From the Scottish Network Enterprise point of view, yes, we are very happy with the progress of the project so far. I think the implementation of the project to date has been almost exemplary, it was a large, complex engineering project. I think it has been said several times this afternoon already that many of the key challenges still lie ahead, obviously extracting economic development and returns for the money invested.
  (Mr O'Connor) From the Millennium Commission's point of view the Link epitomises many of the objectives we set ourselves when we started in 1994. We wanted projects that build on the nations' achievement. We also wanted to look forward and canals are something that our generation has inherited and it is something which have been neglected, so therefore at the start of a new millennium to bring them back into life and also to make them relevant to our needs in the next century, the next millennium, is something which the Millennium Commission was attracted to and, therfore, we are very proud to be associated with all those people who delivered the Link and we are looking forward to the future very much.
  (Mr Russell) From a European Funding point of view we are delighted that the project has been completed on time. It is a huge infrastructure project with potential for delays because of the nature of the project and those delays have been minimised and the project itself has been completed. The European funds were available because of the potential economic benefits and the job creation would occur as a result of the project. Like the local authorities we expect to see those benefits created from now on, after the completion of the Millennium Link itself.
  (Mr McLaren) I would simply echo my colleagues that, yes, we are very impressed in terms of the completion of the project, as the physical project has been completed on time despite many difficulties. We think British Waterways have to be commended in terms of achieving that. As Laurie Russell has said, our interest is in terms of the economic benefits which accrue from the completion of the Millennium Link. It is early days in terms of achieving those outcomes.

  58. Are expectations on course for being fulfilled now or at a later date, particularly with regard to job creation?
  (Mr McGilp) Clearly as the economic development agency for Lowland Scotland the job creation development is top of our agenda. I think, as has been said earlier on today, work has progressed in terms of number of construction jobs and has been ahead of target. The real challenge is that this project relies on indirect employment creation, that the project should deliver. I think the challenge for all of us moving forward is through the governance of the project and investment decisions we make to ensure that those employment opportunities are delivered downstream and the opportunities are substantial and spread right across the central belt.
  (Mr McLaren) If I may come in there, in terms of the Eastern Scotland Objective 2 Programme their focus of support was in the context of tourism. The support was given in what tourism benefits would accrue from the canal project. Again, it is early days, but we consider that those expectations, hopefully, will be realised. If you look, for example, in the east area, in particular at the Falkirk Wheel interchange, that will be a key visitor attraction, it is a very imaginative project which will generate significant visitor numbers.

Mr Sarwar

  59. Scottish Enterprise indicated that their project, the Millennium Link, will create 4,500 jobs over period of time to 15 years. The Millennium Commission has predicted that this project will create 4,000 jobs over a period of four to five years, what is the newest figure? Who is right and who is wrong?
  (Mr McGilp) The number that Scottish Enterprise are working to in excess of 4,000 jobs. The time period I heard were five to 10 years. I should emphasise, the work we did in evaluating the project indicated they were net additional jobs. There were some assumptions made about displacement and additionality in coming to those job numbers, so I suspect it is probably possible to reconcile the two numbers on that basis.

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