I have had a varied and interesting set of meetings this week.
Some must remain entirely confidential – but what I can say is that I have been heartened by the honesty I have been shown. People really want to start moving forward and engage with me. They are looking for a fresh perspective that can challenge the ‘way things have always been done’.
I would like to highlight a few areas.
You may have seen the kind tweet from Alex Fleming who will be known to many of you from the Falkirk Business Improvement District (BID). She, and others are setting up a new charity and Community Interest Company called ‘4 the benefit of all’. It will be based in Grangemouth and they are developing the key support services such as learning, well-being, employability and business-focussed tourism. This latter area is in particular worthy of further development and discussion.
Alex was pleased to hear about the extent of my existing relationships with senior figures who could help her develop her proposition further. It clearly has the possibility of growing into many other locations in Scotland. On 08/09/2020 she tweeted:
“As we work to get our Impact Centre open in Grangemouth and listen to what those in the area would like us to focus on, I had a great chat today with @MichelleThomson about the issues and opportunities for business and the wider community around Grangemouth. Thanks Michelle”
I had some great questions about what specifically I would intend to do to address the inequality in local Council spend between Falkirk West and east of Falkirk across the constituency.
We know this has been an historic grievance over many years. Although some great work has been done to develop the town centre and other areas there is the perception that east of Falkirk has received less. I have been in touch with the Chief Statistician for Scotland to find out the exact details of what has been spent over the last few years.
There must be a delicate balancing act of what we call a push and pull strategy. The push part of it requires a strong voice who can analyse the issues, set them out clearly and challenge what has been done thus far based on real evidence. The pull strategy must be one of working together and persuading others to one’s point of view. Clearly both will be required, and an active role undertaken. There are also other ways of influencing by involving key stakeholders and ensuring they also make their voices heard. Consideration could be given to ensuring the proposed new 5-star hotel is located in the constituency known as Falkirk East.
Tourism should be developed and enhanced in a number of areas. The rich historic traditions and sites such as Airth Castle and the remarkable views of Blackness and Bo’ness offer ready appeal if a compelling plan can be developed.
Scotland has the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) outside London and the South East of England. I have been asked to outline some steps I would take to increase FDI into the constituency. The Scottish Government, under the auspices of Ivan McKee the Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation is currently developing the Scottish Government strategy for FDI. You may have noticed the very favourable endorsement he gave me for my campaign. I have ensured I have an invite to the launch of this strategy and can directly map the key elements of it to the benefit of various areas in Falkirk East.
I also posted up a bit more information about who I am, my background and some emerging of Falkirk East – you can check these earlier posts out on my Facebook page.