Already with the Queens speech due to be given tomorrow, the traditional curtain raiser for the next parliament, attention is beginning to turn to next May’s Holyrood elections. The SNP announced today that they would postpone the £300 million cuts from the Holyrood budget until the 2011/12 budget, negotiated in the run up to the said elections.
It is interesting therefore to see Wendy Alexander putting down a few early markers in today’s PDE. The Glasgow Airport Rail Link is the issue that will not go away, Alexander’s argument was always that the cancellation has cost Renfrewshire jobs and revenue. However today she is claiming that the link will have have brought 675 jobs to the area, in the shape of expansion to the business area surrounding the Airport. She says “GARL was estimated to bring 675 new jobs to Paisley Town Centre in the three to four years after it’s completion. These would have included many airport related office jobs.
In particular, new jobs in businesses that need to cluster close to the airport but not on site would have come to Paisley… It is vital that this project is kept alive for the future so Renfrewshire councillors should put Paisley jobs before party interest this week and reaffirm their support for 675 potential jobs”
The SNP undoubtedly failed to counter the charge that they were “Anti-Glasgow” during the Westminster election, by cancelling the project outright and not promising to look at better cost effective options. Alexander appears to have given the current administration another opportunity to look at better, and less costly, options than the GARL project, or at least signal their intention to look at these options. Any possible rethink could look at providing a railway station to Govan, Braehead Shopping Centre, Renfrew, Erskine as well as the Airport itself.
The problem with the GARL project was that it was expensive for what in essence was a glorified shuttle service between Glasgow city centre and Glasgow Airport, that and most of the building works were concentrated in scything through St James Playing fields. In was certainly New Labour’s pet project. Hopefully Wendy’s questions can provide a more cost effective alternative which will serve more people. Mono-rail anyone?