Scottish business tycoons slam “financially illiterate” policies

15/05/2024
James and Sandy Easdale

MAJOR Scottish entrepreneurs Sandy and James Easdale have said that there is no chance of Glasgow and the West of Scotland attracting serious inward investment as long as local politicians and administrators pursue “financially illiterate policies.” 

Speaking shortly after First Minister John Swinney pledged to “dedicate every fibre” to delivering economic growth for Scotland, Sandy Easdale said: “Mr Swinney said UK government policies were preventing the country from realising its full potential. We feel he needs to look closer to home. Try Glasgow for a start.

“We spoke to one of Europe’s leading place branding consultants who delivered a real wake-up call for Scotland and Glasgow in particular.”

The brothers had outlined two projects to the consultants. First was the SPT/Glasgow Council plan to bring in bus franchising at a cost of £400m a year to the taxpayer. The second was the Clyde Metro project, £15billion investment over a 30-year period.

The consultants explained that when advising and encouraging inward investment to a city or country, they examined key aspects such as political stability, high taxes, competence of local government, plus roads, street lighting and sewers

James Easdale said: “The consultants had all the stats on Glasgow and the region. They were not surprised about the £400m a year estimate for the bus franchising and queried where the local councils would find the money, but they were dumbfounded at the financial illiteracy of the Metro plans.

“That is serious money and the consultant said that is where their analysis of political stability kicks in. What financial investors are going to commit to £15bn which would probably end up as double that bearing in mind Scotland’s track record? Also, when they sit in their European offices and hear John Swinney saying that Scotland will be independent in five years, that raises so many red flags.”

Sandy Easdale added: “Glaswegians and folks in the neighbouring areas must wonder where all the money is coming from for these vanity projects. They need after-hours doctors and access to emergency hospital treatment, never mind getting the potholes fixed and the rat infestations cleared out.” 

As for the competence of local government both brothers feel from their own experience of planning issues, in particular their stalled development of Watt Bros store on Sauchiehall Street,  there is no real encouragement for investors to buy into the much-trumpeted Golden Z and Avenues project which Glasgow Council never tire of boasting about.

“No doubt we will be told that reports such as the one E&Y produced show that Scotland’s approach to attracting inward investment approach is paying off in a significant way. Key figures for the 2021/2022 financial year showed that 7,780 jobs were created or protectedthrough inward investment”, added Sandy Easdale

“However, here’s the kick in the teeth. 98% of these jobs pay the real living wage of £19,305. I am not dismissing these jobs but come on, that’s no way to build a world-class economy. And when you see the phrase “jobs were protected,” that simply means that an incentive was paid to current investors not to get rid of anybody.

The brothers concluded: “Glasgow and the rest Scotland cannot truly move ahead until financially realistic policies are adopted, taxation is normalised with the rest of the UK and John Swinney parks the independence debate for a generation. Otherwise, the global investment community will continue to regard Scotland, and in particular the west, as a basket case.”

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