For too long Aberdeen City and Shire has been regarded as a cash cow. As the centre of the industry that has underpinned the UK economy for more than 40 years, we have watched as revenue has been siphoned off into the UK Exchequer with precious little put back.
Given the importance of the oil and gas industry to the UK economy (it contributes the equivalent of almost a third of all UK corporation tax receipts), you would think Westminster and Holyrood would be falling over themselves to ensure conditions were right to nurture and sustain Aberdeen’s position as the world’s no 2 upstream oil and gas centre.Aberdeen City and Shire need world class infrastructure to support its global role
The reality, as we know, is that this international centre is still connected to the European trunk road network by a mediaeval bridge opened in 1527. At the other end of our trunk road we have the Haudagain, officially named “Britain’s worst roundabout”. Laughable, if it were not so serious.
As indicators of government support for Aberdeen’s position as a world-class energy city, these long-running transport problems clearly signal neglect.
Successive governments have been happy to take the revenue that comes from the industry that is Britain’s biggest industrial investor. They have been happy to see the enterprise culture that has generated Aberdeen’s position having the highest GVA in the UK outside central London.
But, when we have asked for investment in infrastructure the answer has been a disinterested “if you want it, pay for it yourselves”.
The latest nonsense is the danger is that Aberdeen will be missed out of the UK government’s £50 million investment in connected cities.
We simply cannot allow that to happen. Arguably, Aberdeen should be at the head of the queue and it is time we stood up and demanded that status.
Aberdeen City and Shire has, without any doubt, one of the strongest local economies in the current double-dip recession. The city and shire are best placed to help pull the country out of that recession.
But, in the 21st century we need world-class communications and transport infrastructure to help us achieve that.
The message to Westminster and Holyrood must be crystal clear. Aberdeen City and Shire can help to build the UK economy out of recession. But, to do so we need recognition and support, not neglect and disinterest.