Column: Brexit Disruption and a Refurb for Stirling Rail Station

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Categories: Column, News

Column from Alyn Smith MP, for local newspaper the Stirling Observer

Economic uncertainty continues to grip households and businesses across Stirling, as the latest chapter in the cost of living crisis opens: soaring interest rates hitting mortgage holders at a ruinous pace.

The SNP at Westminster have urged the UK Chancellor to go further in support of homeowners and renters at risk of losing their homes or falling into unmanageable debt. Ultimately, Stirling households shouldn’t have to foot the Bill for the UK Government’s economic mismanagement.

But the elephant in the room, as ever, remains the huge economic damage Brexit continues to inflict on the UK and Scotland – a disastrous project that neither Rishi Sunak’s Tory party or Labour’s Keir Starmer have the courage to confront or tackle. 

The cost of living crisis – high energy bills, food costs, labour shortages and general economic decline – has only been made worse by Brexit. 

Only this week alone the Fresh Produce Consortium warned the industry cannot absorb the predicted £10 million in extra costs on goods entering the UK from the EU, once new UK border checks come into force in the new year.

Whilst chaos continues to envelop the machinations of politics at Westminster – sadly par for the course it would seem – economic development in Stirling is continuing apace to improve our city centre and drive Stirling to become an even better place to live, work, visit or study.

The finishing touches are currently being applied to the fantastic £5 million refurbishment of Stirling Rail Station, and as it and the forecourt area is the first impression many visitors receive when coming to Stirling, I’m very happy to see a vote of confidence in the future of both rail travel and Stirling as a destination in our own right. My thanks extend to the Scottish Government, Sustrans, Stirling Council – as well as Network Rail Scotland and the Serco Group – for their contributions and efforts in bringing this project to fruition.

This project, along with a wide range of already completed and future works are actively contributing to a travelling experience and station the community can be proud of.

As we celebrate this achievement, we should also look ahead to other potential development projects which can breathe new life into Stirling city and the surrounding communities. For instance, the regeneration of Forthside holds immense promise, with negotiations still currently underway between Stirling Council and the Ministry of Defence. Once those talks wrap up, we could see some incredible changes taking place for businesses, housing and tourism.

Since I was elected as Stirling’s MP in 2019 it’s struck me more and more the close social geography Stirling enjoys, and how this itself is a huge asset waiting to be tapped into as the Forth Valley as a whole faces an uncertain economic future.

Policymakers across Stirling will agree – safe, attractive neighbourhoods and communities, with well-functioning public services and flourishing businesses remains the shared vision we’re all aiming toward. But the future of Stirling depends on more than physical changes alone. It relies heavily on meaningful, extensive collaboration between various parties, institutions and stakeholders – in other words, the public, private and third-sectors must work closely with communities and businesses to unlock Stirling’s true potential. We must all take a ‘Team Stirling’ approach.

As ever, it’s my privilege to be at my post serving the people and communities of Stirling, as we collectively grasp new challenges – and new opportunities for our wee slice of the world.