My Column

Business plan needs to help city

  • Date: Monday 12th November 2018
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Dundee was dealt a real hammer blow last week following the news that tyre giant Michelin intends to close its plant in the city with the loss of all 845 jobs.

The factory will cease production by mid-2020 after its French owners deemed it "unsuitable" in the current climate.

Workers described their devastation as they learned of the cuts via a text message from bosses.

Shock and anger was replaced by real worry for the city. One employee – who had more than 30 years’ service – said: “It’s a shock. I feel for the young guys who have families and mortgages because there is nothing in Dundee that pays as well.”

The move was rightly labelled “devastating”, with Scotland’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay jetting out to Paris to meet with Michelin executives.

He has confirmed the bosses, whilst not performing a U-turn on their decision, have agreed to hear his rescue plans.

In the meantime, Mr Mackay has convened an action group in a bid to save as many jobs as possible.

While he hasn’t given up on tyre production continuing at the plant, his plans include contingency for “repurposing” – possibly as a research and development site.

Riding on the crest of a wave following the grand opening of the £80million V&A Museum, the shift in headlines around Dundee couldn’t be starker.

Politicians and civic leaders were literally falling over themselves to have their tuppence worth heard for the star attraction’s unveiling.

The so-called V&A effect was lauded as the centrepiece of a £1bn redevelopment of the waterfront worked its magic.

We were told how the museum would bring about an economic boom for the city, with businesses predicted to cash in as thousands flocked to visit the flagship attraction.

But despite welcoming more than 100,000 visitors through its doors in the first weeks, some businesses are sceptical of the wider impact.

And what last week’s devastating news at Michelin shows is how quickly the story can change.

Whilst Dundee has no doubt been boosted by the V&A’s arrival, the city and its residents face an incredible challenge to overcome the tribulations that are brought about by the loss of 845 jobs.

But it is one that I’m sure the people of Dundee will more than meet.

What they need is for the politicians and chief executives who shouted loud and proud about bringing the V&A to Dundee to shout even louder and proud for them.

Michelin has already pledged to listen to the plans, and we must hope that they do so with some consideration for the livelihoods involved. But being a business they will do so with a very financial head.

Mr Mackay has already warned that the company “does not want to revisit the decision” to close the factory, which opened in 1971.

That is why the unions, Scottish Government, and business leaders and advisors will spend the next three weeks battling to pull together a watertight plan which could offer some real hope for the workers and won’t just be sent sailing up the silvery Tay.



During what is undoubtedly a significant period for the fortunes of businesses in Aberdeen and across the north east, a new report has turned the spotlight firmly on the oil and gas industry.

The report from the Oil and Gas Authority – which dropped last week – suggested there are up to 20 billion barrels of oil left to recover in the UK. It’s undoubtedly a staggering sum but it’s also a reminder that we are dealing with a finite resource.

The findings called for investment to help tap into our remaining potential, only weeks after official figures revealed oil and gas production from Scottish waters dropped by more than a percentage point to 73.7 million tonnes in the last year.  

Another report that landed in the last seven days suggested the oil and gas downturn was to blame for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire businesses being particularly hard hit this past year.

Put in context, more businesses failed in the north east than any other part of Scotland. And set against a backdrop of growth in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, it made for grim reading.

But in a region that has long made its millions from its oil and gas links, the business community is taking note. 

It was just this year that Aberdeen was named the best place to launch a start-up in Scotland, and the mood on the street is decidedly optimistic. 

Billions of pounds are being channelled into the local economy to help with diversification and to ensure the well doesn’t run dry.



It’s official – Scots revellers will be spicing up their lives in June 2019.

Four of the original five Spice Girls will take to the stage at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium next summer, as part of their hotly anticipated reunion tour.

Not only will this be a lucrative deal for Emma, Geri and the Mels, but I’m sure businesses across the country will be looking for ways to capitalise on the opportunity as super fans scramble for tickets.

You might question the motives behind the reunion, but there’s no doubting the influence that their unique brand of girl power had back in the late 90s – they were utterly ubiquitous and even cracked America where so many others had failed.

Say you’ll be there!



Guy Fawkes Night might have gone off with a bang for thousands across the country, but it wasn’t such an enjoyable night for our emergency services.

Scotland’s firefighters dealt with a staggering 330 bill-advised bonfires in one night, even coming under attack in some horrifying instances – a sad reflection on society these days.

More than 700 calls came into control rooms from concerned members of the public.

And after the night itself, it’s now also a headache for Police Scotland, which is dealing with the aftermath of disorder.

There’s no denying the spectacle it creates in the night sky, or that it is big business, but is it time to ask ourselves at what cost is it to the safety of our brave emergency services?









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