"Stephen,What do you think of the almost 3 million pounds worth of Town Centre regeneration funding provided by an SNP administration for the constituency we represent.
"We have all been working hard with local groups and our partners in Holyrood to secure such funding thus providing much needed jobs in construction as well as adding a facelift to local shops etc.Where were the Lib Dems when all of this was going on.Come on Stephen let's be positive and work together for the benefit of our local areas.I can assure you it wasn't easy taking part in the bids but it was more worthwhile than critisising [sic] ones web page postings. Tam."
Firstly I welcome the the £2.345 million investment that the SNP administration are earmarking for the town centres of Linlithgow, Bathgate, Armadale and Whitburn. Also for the extra funding that Bathgate's Business Improvement District (BID) Company, Enterprising Bathgate, have also secured from the Scottish Parliament. Although neither of us currently represent any part of the constituency, although very shortly we may both be seeking to do so for all of it.
As for where the Lib Dems have been Tam should ask local business owners just who turned up at their crisis meeting here in Bathgate in June 2005? I'll give you a clue it wasn't any of the local councillors, the MP, MSPs, or 3 of the other parliamentary candidates of the month before. The Lib Dems truly did show they worked for local interests all year round not just at election times. As well as that I've attended meetings about the impact of paid parking to business, residents and others in Linlithgow. As well as meetings that led to Linlithgow becoming a shining beacon of environmentalism in the county.
I've been advocating and been fighting for a fair deal for Whitburn, Armdale, Bathgate, Linlithgow and the other West Lothian town centres that have seemed to suffer in the eight years I have lived here while the Livingston shopping experience grows and increases in size and pull. I've always been there to offer advise and support in their attempts to get a fair deal for themselves, something that the businesses have driven themselves moving forward. I've been working away hard, on the ground, moving things forward for years.
Indeed there are councillors on both side of the council chamber and our independent councillor who know that I already will happily work with them on issues of mutual interest. Tam should have known from our meetings, or from discussion with his colleagues, that I would have been happy to discuss involvement with such an incentive, yet he lays it down as a challenge, almost as if I and the Lib Dems have done nothing.
Sadly knowing as I do the number of businesses that have already disappeared from many of these town centres the investment is too late for some local business owners. But this investment is better late than never.
In March 2008 the Council said it would be matching the BID funding in Bathgate to make a total of £750,000. Though at the start of this year Enterprise Bathgate valued at £990,000 the benefit their funding would bring to the town where I live. Tam, himself, does seem a little confused about the exact benefit of the Enterprising Bathgate portion of the funding, he starts by saying that West Lothian Council and Enterprising Bathgate are investing a further £800,000 into the pot, then later says that it is £935,000 from Enterprising Bathgate topped up with £260,000 from the council. Maybe he would like to clarify which of the three figures is the correct one.
With so many conflicting figures it is hard for the electorate to discern just what level of investment is to be given. The news was too late for this weeks local papers, so I will get the facts straightened when they are available for everyone.
I've borrowed from Tam's website the full list of the projects that will be included:
● develop transport and town centre connections by improving access and developing the streetscape, pedestrian walkways and cycle routes.
● refurbish the Goth Tower clock, together with town centre shopfront improvements and signage.
● develop the public realm at The Cross.
● improvement to connections between the town centre/rail station/union canal, focusing on Low Port as a gateway.
● improvements in the Conservation Area to retail and business shop fronts together with improved signage.
● in partnership with Historic Scotland develop better connections between the Town Centre and Linlithgow Palace, including improved event access, signage, heritage conservation and other physical developments.
● re-location of new heritage facility into the Burgh Halls.
● address safer connections at The Cross and links to residential areas, transport sites and car parking sites, including measures to enhance mobility, pedestrian and cycle use.
● improvements in the town centre to retail and business shop fronts together with improved signage and better streetscape layout.
● acquisition of derelict land site in Whitburn Town Centre and restoration for development.
● The creation of a town centre Wi-Fi zone in Bathgate for customers and businesses.
● Develop town centre cycle network linking park and ride/transport interchange/town centre, regal conference/Arts Facility/Lindsay house including cycling provisions at each site along with signage.
● The provision of new and improved signage/retail frontage within core business to in Bathgate.
● The provision of a transport interchange to connect Bathgate and Airdrie including new signage, lighting and public information.
There is also £350,000 for Bo'ness and Grangemouth at the northern end of the Westminster constituency which had been secured in the first tranche of funding earlier this year as part of the BID pilot projects.
UPDATE: I notice that the BBC indicates that the Scottish Parliament is investing £1.7 million in to Armadale, Almondvale (what more!!!) and Broxburn. Now I know Linlithgow have got £94k from the Climate Challenge fund, even if Enterprise Bathgate is a seperate endeavour, I take it then than Council funding is coming for the Whitburn elements.
PS I notice that the criticism of Tam's use of quotes on his webpage was taken on board and was actually praised for doing so last night. I'm hoping for an honest campaign heading into the Westminster election, the people deserve transparency and openness in their Westminster representative when they get to decide on who that should be.