Examination of Witnesses (Questions 56
MONDAY 3 DECEMBER 2001
O'CONNOR CBE, MR
56. Good afternoon, gentlemen, thank you again
for your attendance. Perhaps you would like to introduce yourselves
(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
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
(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
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.