NORTH Ayrshire’s SNP have welcomed the publication of the “Growth Commission” report on the economics of an independent Scotland.

Irvine East Councillor Marie Burns has spoken of how pleased she is to see the publication of ‘Scotland – the new case for optimism’ - a 354-page report running through 50 recommendations on a range of fiscal subjects.

But the report has been branded a distraction to the real issues facing North Ayrshire by a Tory MSP.

Councillor Burns, the SNP spokesperson for economic growth, has been a member of the Growth Commission since its inception.

“It was an honour to be asked by the First Minister to join the Commission” she said.

“I have devoted much of my working life to seeking ways to grow the economy of Scotland, firstly when I worked in Scottish Enterprise and now in North Ayrshire since becoming a councillor.

“I believe that this report is a major step forward in examining how we can work together to harness the skills we have to grow our economy.

“And it highlights that economic growth for the sake of it is not enough. It has to be an inclusive growth that benefits everyone in our society.

“We can’t continue to live in a country where the rich keep getting richer while others are using food banks and struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“Here in North Ayrshire we face particularly acute challenges: high unemployment, appalling poverty and sluggish growth.

“This report is not just about Independence, although I believe that is key to achieving our potential as a country.

“I would ask people to read the Commission’s report and think about what might be possible if we had the powers of an independent country like Denmark or Finland.”

But West of Scotland Conservative MSP Jamie Greene said: “More than four years ago, the SNP delivered an independence blueprint which they claimed was the final word. Today, they are telling us to ignore the old version and have instead produced an entirely new manual which we’re expected to believe is credible.

“This is nothing more than a distraction from the real challenges facing North Ayrshire. I’m more concerned about improving services at Crosshouse, helping people get into college, creating jobs and fixing our roads.”