The Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has voiced his disappointment the city has lost out on gaining freeport status. Speaking to Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Willie Haughey on their Go Radio Business show, Stuart Patrick acknowledged that, only four weeks into the new year, major economic decisions had not been going Glasgow’s way.

“We were bitterly disappointed the Clyde Green Freeport proposal lost out to bids from the Cromarty Firth and from Edinburgh, given that we believe the Clyde Freeport proposal would have generated upwards of 30,000 jobs and attracted £2 billion worth of private business investment,” he said.

“You can imagine we are vigorously supporting the city’s call to UK and Scottish Government Ministers for urgent discussions on the way forward for national government backing to the Glasgow City region. There are some issues to resolve. What does the UK Government’s levelling-up strategy amount to, if the region with by far the largest concentrations of poverty and disadvantage loses out to one of the UK’s richest?”

Mr Patrick pointed out it took Glasgow three decades to halt the drifting population and investment from the west coast to the east, adding: “That we now have two freeports on the east coast and nothing on the west north of Liverpool can only make it more difficult to achieve our goals for inclusive growth. The Scottish Government cannot be let off the hook. Just over three years ago it made a bold commitment to revitalise the Clyde with the launch of the Clyde Mission plan.

“So far, that has amounted to one further announcement of £10 million towards a package of relatively small projects. Remember over 20 years ago a broadly similar announcement was made for £2 billion worth of projects called the Clyde Waterfront. That made clear just how much investment was needed to get the Clyde moving again. Nobody would argue the task is anywhere near finished, with Clyde Mission stalled and the freeport rejected, what is the plan now?”

Mr Patrick also noted the UK Government had announced Glasgow was not successful in the second round of levelling-up fund bids. “What was much more concerning was discovering the time and energy spent by the City Council submitting plans for seven projects was a waste of valuable time. It turned out that areas that had secured a project in the first round, as Glasgow did with the Pollock Stables project, were ruled out for the second without making that clear.”

Mr Patrick called on both the UK and Scottish governments to look again at their commitment to the long-term transformation of Glasgow City region.

“Of course, there has been great progress over the past 20 years, but there are too many of the regions, towns and communities that have still to see the benefits of that success. Yes, there has been a City Deal, now eight years old and replicated in regions all across Scotland. However Manchester and Birmingham are on to their third and fourth rounds of fresh resources and devolved powers. Glasgow is much further behind.”

Mr Patrick acknowledged it was not all bad news, pointing out: “Glasgow’s designation by the UK government as an innovation accelerator means there is £33 million coming to funding for projects that will help local companies invest in new technologies. We know Glasgow is one of the world’s biggest centres for space communications and satellites. Now there’s a pipeline of projects from Glasgow and Strathclyde universities to work with local businesses on new technology, including photonics, advanced manufacturing, quantum computing, fin-tech, digital communications, and precision medicine.”