Local banks will help firms grow, says Campbell

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the creation of regional development banks in Scotland, a key plank of the Lib Dem manifesto for the Holyrood election, will deliver real support for businesses to grow, writes Andrew Keddie.

That was the message from the party’s former UK leader Sir Menzies Campbell MP when he visited Oregon Timber Frame in Selkirk on Friday in support of Euan Robson, the Lib Dem candidate for the new Scottish constituency of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

The pair toured the 32,000 square foot Dunsdale Road factory where a workforce of 78 produces engineered timber frames for the volume housing market.

They heard that the firm was well placed to take advantage of building regulations which require houses to use less energy with the recent launch of a new product – the Oregon Intelligent Panel (IP).

The system comprises highly insultated, closed, structural timber panels which give energy efficient performance, thus meeting the requirements of the regulations, both in Scotland and in England which has a new code for sustainable homes.

The politicians were told the system had been trialled last year. Although formal results were due to be released soon, all indications were that a house fitted with the IP panels had performed well.

The IP system is now in full production and is currently being supplied to a Fife-based construction company which is building a 35-unit social and speculative housing development in Rosyth.

On Friday, Oregon chairman and finance director Rod Lawson said the roll-out of the IP system was the culmination of many years of industry experience and research- and-development investment by Oregon.

“It’s an exciting time for us – we were very pleased indeed to show Sir Menzie and Mr Robson the work we are doing here.”

In their Holyrood manifesto, the Lib Dems propose to replace Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland with regional development banks to provide “more accessible and personalised support” for 1,000 business and to help create 10,000 jobs.

Sir Menzies told us: “It’s great to see a successful business such as Oregon launching new products on the market. I want to see more business like this getting access to lending so they can grow. Our regional development banks will step in where the banks have failed.”

Last week we reported that Oregon made a pre-tax loss of £334,000 in 2010, although turnover increased to £12.3million, up from £8million in 2009.