COUNCIL leader Stephen McCabe's latest column features Ferguson's, an update on the Inverclyde Taskforce and the opening of the new £20m cruise terminal.

All aboard!

ON Friday we had the official opening of the new £20 million Greenock Ocean Terminal building.

We had it all, guests from various partner agencies involved, including ministers from both the UK and Scottish governments, builders, architects, business representatives, cruise industry figures, and even the captain and his colleagues from Cunard cruise ship Queen Victoria that was berthed in the background.

There was even a star turn in the form of actor Bill Paterson, who gave a speech on the day about his links to the late George Wyllie – the famous artist who worked in Greenock, lived in Gourock and whose name lends itself to the new Wyllieum art gallery and museum space within the terminal building that is due to open in early 2024 paying tribute to his life and work.

In true west of Scotland style, we also had just about every season as well. Gloriously warm and sunny one minute, chucking it down with rain the next.

The rain did not put a dampener on what was a great event showcasing not just the shiny new terminal building but Inverclyde as a whole, to representatives from local, regional, and national organisations.

It’s worth remembering that while this first-class facility is aimed at the cruise industry during the sailing season to capitalise on that growing market, it is for people from near and far to use all year round. It has created more than 70 jobs, and there are many spin-off benefits, including the new dedicated cruise ship berth freeing up space for the container side of the port.

Guests were treated to fantastic music from our very own talented young people in piper Fraser Gallagher welcoming guests followed by flute player Cody MacDonald and Andrea Crumlish on the tenor horn, all products of our wonderful Inverclyde Schools’ Music Service run by the council. They were magnificent and a credit to themselves, their families, and Inverclyde.

Inverclyde really is a fantastic place to live, work, visit, and do business. But don’t take my word for it, ask any of the people from across the country who enjoyed our world-famous hospitality and stunning scenery on Friday.

Ferguson Marine

Last Wednesday I represented the council at a closed door summit in Port Glasgow on the future of Ferguson Marine.

Greenock Telegraph: Ferguson Marine

The summit was organised by the GMB union and attended by representatives of the three main political parties in Scotland, shop stewards and union officials and senior management from Ferguson's.

The chief executive of Ferguson’s provided an overview of the challenges and opportunities for yard.

The discussion was very constructive, and all parties agreed to work together to promote a positive future for the yard.

Ferguson's is a vital local employer in Inverclyde with around 300 quality jobs and many apprenticeship opportunities each year.

It is owned by the Scottish Government, and it is crucial that the government invests in the yard to ensure that it can secure sufficient work beyond the completion of the two CalMac ferries to provide continuing employment for the workforce.

Inverclyde Taskforce

Along with my co-chair of the Inverclyde Taskforce, Stuart McMillan MSP, I have written to Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government’s business minister, detailing eight key projects identified by the taskforce as priorities to regenerate the area and improve business opportunities, housing and skills and seeking funding to support these projects.

The Taskforce was established at the request of the then-Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes, to consider how the Scottish Government might assist Inverclyde address the economic and social challenges we face.

The expectation was that the government would look at funding proposals developed by the Taskforce through existing funding streams rather than create a specific fund for Inverclyde.

We are now looking to the Scottish Government to back the Taskforce by providing funding for the projects we have identified.