Buchanan back in saddle as economic development boss

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THE politician who has helped attract major firms and investment to Edinburgh has been re-appointed to his role as part of the new city coalition.

Tom Buchanan, who is recovering after undergoing a brain operation, will return to the economic development leader post in the new administration, one of the first key positions to be announced since last week’s local government elections.

His appointment came as the city’s new leaders today pledged to attract more jobs for young people in their first interview since forming a coalition.

The SNP in Edinburgh struck a deal with Labour to have Councillor Buchanan take on the position following his success in the 2007-12 administration.

Cllr Buchanan, who had a senior role in sales and marketing before entering politics, underwent surgery to remove a tumour in March but returned to the City Chambers just four weeks later.

New Labour city council leader Andrew Burns and SNP deputy Steve Cardownie told the Evening News that with cutbacks to the public sector, the private sector would play a crucial role in the economic recovery of Edinburgh.

Mitsubishi and Gamesa have recently announced plans for major investments in Leith Docks and city leaders want to target more major investors.

Cllr Burns told the News: “Underpinning everything is a strong desire to make sure the economy of Edinburgh is as buoyant as possible because that means jobs, higher living standards and quality of life for people.”

Although joint policies are at an early stage, major road network investment from £12.5 million to £20m is pledged in the SNP manifesto and focuses on routes leading to investment areas such as the BioQuarter.

Cllr Cardownie said: “Tom has a fantastic record and has really served this city well and we’re delighted to have him return to this position. He is extremely well respected and is someone who can bring investment to the city.”

The new leaders also pledged to cut the council’s £1.4 billion debt, the second highest among Scotland’s local authorities.

Meanwhile, the council has signalled it is ready to accept the inquiry into the trams debacle will have to wait until the project is complete, as the Scottish Government has argued.

A joint statement from the Labour and SNP groups said: “Both parties support a public inquiry into the tram and look forward to working with the government on the timing.”