Forth Ports ‘disappointed’ with Scottish government stance on free ports

The managing director of Forth Ports admitted his “disappointment” that the Scottish government failed to reach an agreement with the British government on the future of Scottish free ports.

Charles Hammond has already pledged to back the plans, suggesting that such a site in the Firth of Forth could create up to 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Scottish government announced late last week that it would advance plans to develop its own ‘green port’ model, with Business Secretary Ivan McKee arguing that Westminster officials were unwilling to s ” commit to Holyrood fair working conditions and the zero net specifications for the proposed free zones.

“The reason this is a general disappointment is that we have already launched the Thames Freeport and we are already receiving inquiries from interested parties who will inevitably manufacture and distribute goods in the South East of England,” he said. Hammond said.

“I think the Firth of Forth could create an economy-style freeport area to attract the incentives the UK government has talked about – what forms this takes we will have to wait and see.”

Hammond also suggested the Scottish government should help fund a Heavy Truck Driver Simulator (PLH) to address current driver shortages, as he noted it could cost up to £ 1.5million to to build.

He made the final remarks at an Economics and Fair Labor committee meeting taking evidence of recent issues with the UK supply chain.

Many industries have reported staff shortages exacerbated by Covid and Brexit and import / export issues in recent months, leaving some store shelves empty, forcing restaurants to remove items from their menus and leaving some manufacturers unable to execute the commands.

Andrew Richards, a member of the Construction Scotland steering group, criticized the Scottish government for ‘killing the industry’ and preventing the transformation.

He argued that a change was needed in the Scottish procurement process, as 50% of the construction industry’s income comes from here – adding that the supply chain and manufacturers need to be aware so that ‘they can train people in the right skills.

“Putting money into building the right way encourages the right behavior and I guess that’s the little we couldn’t get – an agreed position – partly because of the complexity of it all.

“There’s always this tendency to stick with what the industry has been doing for years: go out and get the cheapest deal possible and we protect the public coffers.

“Our point of view which is so narrow that I guess it might suit your [Scottish Government] own needs of the local authority, the wider implication is: you are killing more industry, you are not encouraging transformation and there is huge digitization that needs to continue with industry, as well as the money is not there. “

Richards added, “We are not in a position to facilitate this as a supply driver like we are currently doing. “

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