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Work ongoing to fix harbour funding gap

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Work ongoing to fix harbour funding gap

A £1.9 million shortfall has emerged in the Annan Harbour regeneration project – but officials are confident it won’t derail the plans.

Discussing it at the Annandale and Eskdale area committee on Wednesday, Annandale South Cllr Richard Brodie aired some concerns.

He said: “It’s an exciting project and it’s going to bring nearly £20 million of benefits into the local area.

“I am concerned about our capacity to deliver this, it’s very tight timescales and there seems to have been a bit of slippage.

“Also the funding gap – the government have awarded us money but have not taken inflation into consideration.”

However, officials offered reassurances with Stuart McMillan saying: “A lot of work has been done through the economic development and legal teams in terms of the grant agreement. Legal teams are finalising that at the moment.

“We are putting in place a high level meeting with the project group and with civil servants and the levelling up department to guide the harbour group and ourselves. That will be extremely helpful.”

He added: “You have to look at this as a collaboration between the council and the harbour group.

“No more government money will be put into this so we need to work with the group, their design team and cost consultants and see what’s affordable to determine what the funding gap is.”

Melissa McGarey added: “To date, we have got £13.1 million confirmed funding towards project, though our costing plan has come up with figure of just over £15 million.”

She said they are working to get the most up-to-dates figures and said work is also underway to start a more advanced stage of the design.

“The thing about budget and funding is it’s a moveable feast, at key stages we re-freeze it.

“There are a number of options in terms of funding that we would want to consider.”

Ms McGarey also stressed that affordability is affecting all the projects going for levelling up funding as “inflation has had an impact”.

Meanwhile, council leader Gail Macgregor recognises the importance of the project and says she regularly raises it with senior officials, adding: “We will definitely keep our foot on the pedal on this one.”

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