Councils across Scotland received more than £100 million in EU funding over the last four years, according to analysis.
Figures provided to the Scottish Liberal Democrats by 30 of the country’s 32 local authorities indicate that at least £106.4 million of funding was assigned between 2015/2016 and 2017/2018.
The investment contributed towards a number of projects including the installation of intelligent street lighting in Perth and Kinross, introducing fibre optic broadband in Shetland and providing school milk for primary school children in East Lothian.
The largest sum given to a council was the £10.4 million provided to Dumfries and Galloway in 2017/2018.
Delighted to see @scotlibdems amazing #EUelections2019 candidates announced today in Edinburgh – a strong team that will fight for Scotland's & the UK's place in Europe! 🇪🇺 #ExitfromBrexit pic.twitter.com/hCKHOdQcMV
— Edinburgh Lib Dems (@EdinburghLibDem) April 18, 2019
Sheila Ritchie, the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ lead candidate in the European elections, said the funding highlighted the support provided by the EU towards valuable projects across Scotland.
Ms Ritchie said: “From business development in the North East to transport projects in the Borders, EU funding has underpinned valuable work across Scotland, especially in Highland and Island areas that have too often been left behind by our own governments.
“Councils are already hard up after another year of tough settlements from central government and so far neither of our governments have stepped up to the plate to explain how the funding gap will be filled if we leave the European Union.”
Ms Ritchie added that voters must be given another opportunity to decide on Brexit, suggesting that people’s views have changed since 2016.
“Let’s be blunt – it is the UK Government’s chaotic and cavalier approach to Brexit which has brought us to this precipice,” said Ms Ritchie.
“The will of the country has clearly shifted. It’s time for a People’s Vote and an exit from Brexit.”
With the UK now scheduled to depart the EU on October 31 unless a deal can be agreed sooner, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said that the extra time granted by the extension to Article 50 must be used in a constructive way.
“The UK Government’s Brexit plans, in whatever form, will cost jobs, make people poorer and damage our society,” said Mr Mackay.
“The Scottish Government has repeatedly called on the UK Government to provide a guarantee that all future EU funding to Scotland – worth over £5 billion in this current EU budget round – will be replaced in full.
“It is essential the extension granted by the EU is used constructively and not wasted.
“The ongoing talks over EU exit must include the devolved administrations, and for any deal agreed by the UK Parliament to be put to a second referendum.
“However, as a responsible government we will also continue our work to prepare for all outcomes as best we can.”