EU grant has created no jobs

Progress on Coldstream Business Area at Lennel.
Progress on Coldstream Business Area at Lennel.

A £2.9m European Union regional development fund grant to attract business and jobs to the Borders has so far resulted in no employment land being sold and no work being created, it has been revealed.

The EU funding was confirmed in 2010 to develop five business and industrial parks across the region – at Coldstream, Duns, Lauder, Hawick and Peebles.

In May 2014, a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson confirmed that work on the employment sites would be completed in December 2014 and plots would be available for new businesses to locate to the region and for local businesses to grow and expand.

However, this week Bryan McGrath, the council’s chief officer for economic development, said: “We have had a number of interests from businesses in all the sites, but none of the plots has yet been sold.

“The level of interest has been as follows – Hawick, five businesses; Lauder, six businesses; Duns, five businesses; Coldstream, two businesses.

“Obviously, no jobs will be created until plots are sold and the businesses develop buildings on site.”

Coldstream Community Council asked the authority for a progress report on the business park after receiving reports of companies making inquiries, only to be told they did not fit the criteria.

Suspicions have been voiced that the EU funding came with such restrictive conditions that it is going to be difficult for companies to meet them, meaning that the expected eight new jobs per plot will never be created.

Lennel Mount Industrial Estate, Coldstream. - now called Coldstream Business Park

· Duns Industrial Estate.

· Burnfoot South Industrial Estate, Hawick.

· Whitlaw Road Industrial Estate, Lauder