A POLITICAL row about the Ayrshire Growth Deal has erupted between two MSPs.
It follows a meeting South Scotland’s Brian Whittle had with Greg Clark MP, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Fellow MSPs John Scott and Jamie Greene also attended the talks about the deal which involves joint investment by all three Ayrshire councils, private investors and the UK and Scottish Governments.
Speaking after the meeting, Brian Whittle MSP said “I’m delighted Greg Clark was able to come to Scotland and meet us to discuss the Ayrshire Growth Deal (AGD). John, Jamie and I had a long and very positive meeting with Greg and I’m confident that he sees the merits of the AGD.
“Ayrshire wasn’t fortunate enough to be covered by a city deal but the plans for the growth deal offer a real alternative that fits with the UK Government’s wider Industrial Strategy.
“The next big step for the project is for the Scottish Government to set out its contribution to the AGD in detail so the UK Government can know exactly what aspects of the deal it will be asked to support.
“Co-operation and communication will be key to making the Ayrshire Growth Deal a reality and I’ll be continuing to work to make that happen.”
These comments met with a furious reaction from Jeane Freeman, MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, who accused Mr Whittle of hypocrisy.
She said: “While Brian Whittle tries to score points in the Scottish Parliament, demanding to know how much money the Scottish Government will commit to the Ayrshire Growth Deal, the UK Conservative Government have, to date, refused to be part of it.
“Brian Whittle failed to support the work of local MPs arguing for the Growth Deal and refused to support a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for a debate on the deal.
“The Scottish Government continues to support the Growth Deal, but yet again Scottish Tories are apologists for their UK Conservative Government who have failed to act.
“Brian Whittle has the gall to demand that the Scottish Government supports the deal, showboating of the worst kind.
“If Mr Whittle is serious about growing the infrastructure and economy of Ayrshire he should persuade his Westminster colleagues to declare their support for the deal.
“Instead he postures in the Scottish Parliament in the face of the facts.”