Towns in Dumfries & Galloway should be supported with UK Government and Scottish Government investment, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
A new report urges the Scottish Government and the UK Government to direct the Scottish National Investment Bank and the UK Stronger Towns Fund respectively to invest in projects and properties that would boost Scottish high streets and town centres.
Town centres in Dumfries & Galloway have seen bad news with at least 18 bank branch, shop and local premises closures having been announced by big businesses and the public sector since the start of 2016. Across Scotland, the FSB has tracked 415 similar closures.
Hisashi Kuboyama, FSB’s development manager for Dumfries & Galloway, said: “Nearly two thirds of people in Dumfries & Galloway live in towns. But these towns have recently faced real pressure from big business and public sector closures.
“That’s why FSB is calling on governments north and south in border for long term investment in our local towns. This new supply of cash should help them adapt to current challenges but also help them to lay the groundwork to be great places to live in the future.”
The report highlights innovative work by Scottish councils to fill empty units but urges initiatives – such installing co-working spaces and installing town centre recycling facilities – to be rolled out more widely.
Hisashi Kuboyama said: “Over the past few years we’ve seen many closures in Dumfries and Galloway, which has left empty properties in local high streets. To tackle this problem, we need to think more creatively about filling these gaps. In our report we suggest we need to press for new facilities – such as recycling stations and vehicle charging points – to be located in the centres of our local places.
“The investment recently announced by Dumfries & Galloway Council from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund is a welcome starting point, but sustained and strategic investment will be needed to turn around the fortunes of Dumfries & Galloway towns.”
The launch of this report also marks the start of a new #FSBmyTown campaign across Scotland to rejuvenate our towns.
Hisashi Kuboyama said: “We want to hear from businesses and communities about what they see as the future of their town. Help us make the case to improve your town by sharing your ideas in videos and selfies using the hashtag #FSBmyTown.”