Glasgow council leaders seek to turn Brexit into ‘opportunity for growth’

Glasgow council leaders are looking to capitalise on Brexit. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow council leaders are looking to capitalise on Brexit. Picture: John Devlin
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The leaders of Scotland’s largest city have issued a list of key demands for the Scottish and UK governments to help it flourish after Brexit.

Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council, insisted leaving the European Union could “become an opportunity for economic growth and not a threat of crisis” if the correct action is taken.

As part of this, city leaders say the Scottish and UK governments must commit to providing cash to match money from crucial EU structural and investment funds, which are worth £780 million to Scotland between 2014 and 2020.

A report on the impact of Brexit on the city’s economy also calls on the two governments to transfer surplus land they have in the area to Glasgow City Council in a bid to speed up new housebuilding programmes, which will provide both jobs and homes for local people.

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Projects that are part of the Glasgow City Deal, such as plans for a rail link to Glasgow Airport, should be accelerated, it adds.

The report also calls for the Scottish Government to bring in a two-year moratorium on non-domestic rates for new-build properties that are not fully let, in a bid to encourage more speculative development in the city.

Mr McAveety said: “I believe that Brexit will confront Glasgow with major economic challenges. I also believe these can be overcome if special action is taken by the Scottish and UK governments. If that happens, then the problems associated with Brexit can become an opportunity for economic growth and not a threat of crisis.

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“Our confidence in our future resilience is based on facts and today Glasgow has emerged as the fastest growing major city economy in the UK.

“We are grateful to everyone who helped prepare this report; leading political figures, economics experts and our business community. We know that by working together, we can ensure we grow a stronger city and a brighter future with opportunity for all our citizens to flourish.”

The report was produced by the council, together with the Glasgow Economic Leadership (GEL) board and the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and involved input from leading businesses as well as senior figures from local government and academia.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, GEL chair and principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “There is no doubt that Brexit is a fundamental system shock and one that poses challenges to us all.

“However, Glasgow is well used to challenge, indeed, agility and proactivity are woven into the city’s history; one of recurrent challenge and successful response.

“We will now position our city to meet the challenges of Brexit and exploit longer term opportunities to grow our economy. We will continue to work collaboratively with the Scottish and UK governments and their agencies. GEL’s clear focus is to maximise investment in our key sectors, businesses, infrastructure and people.”

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “In order to take advantage of the new world as it exists in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and to seize the opportunities that will be presented to us, a clear, collective, coherent and forward looking approach from the city of Glasgow and from the Scottish and UK governments is required.”

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