Dumfries To Receive £20 Million Funding From UK Government To Improve Long Term Future

UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak announces 55 UK towns Including Dumfries in South West Scotland are each to be given £20m endowment-style funds each over 10 years to invest in local people’s priorities

Seven Scottish towns have been named by the UK Prime Minister as part of £1.1 billion levelling up investment being provided to 55 towns across the UK.

Clydebank, Coatbridge, Dumfries, Elgin, Irvine, Greenock and Kilmarnock will each receive £20 million from the UK Government as part of a long-term investment plan for towns that have been overlooked and taken for granted.

The money will be provided directly by the UK Government to the relevant local authority and The UK Government will work with them and the Scottish Government to take a place-centred approach which maximises investment and opportunity.

Councillor Gail Macgregor, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said:

“I welcome the fantastic news of £20 million funding to invest in the long-term future of Dumfries town, our regional capital.
“This funding will make a massive contribution to improving the long-term prospects for Dumfries – and secure its rich history and culture for generations to come.
“The Council has been working with local community organisations, businesses and the third sector for some time in an effort to help support their ambitious plans for the social and economic recovery of Dumfries town centre.
“We all recognise the impact the closure of shops has had on the local high street, and we are confident that there is a bright future for Dumfries.
“I look forward to working with community leaders, businesses and local people to maximise the impact and opportunity this investment will have.”

Under the new approach, local people will be put in charge, and given the tools to change their town’s long-term future. They will:

·        Receive a ten-year endowment-style fund to be spent on local people’s priorities, like regenerating local high streets and town centres or securing public safety.

·        Set up a Town Board to bring together community leaders, employers and local authorities to deliver the Long-Term Plan for their town and put it to local people for consultation.

More than half the UK population live in towns, but half-empty high streets, run-down town centres and anti-social behaviour undermine towns in every part of the UK. Today’s announcement marks a change in approach that will put an end to people feeling like their town is ignored and empower communities to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people.

This plan builds on the UK Government’s central mission to level up the UK by putting more power and money in the hands of people who know their areas best to build a brighter future for their community, creating bespoke initiatives that will spark the regeneration needed.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

“Towns are the place most of us call home and where most of us go to work. But politicians have always taken towns for granted and focused on cities.
“The result is the half-empty high streets, run-down shopping centres and anti-social behaviour that undermine many towns’ prosperity and hold back people’s opportunity – and without a new approach, these problems will only get worse.
“That changes today. Our Long-Term Plan for Towns puts funding in the hands of local people themselves to invest in line with their priorities, over the long-term. That is how we level up.”

Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove said:

“We know that in our towns the values of hard work and solidarity, common sense and common purpose, endeavour and quiet patriotism have endured across generations. But for too long, too many of our great British towns have been overlooked and undervalued.
“We are putting this right through our Long-Term Plan for Towns backed by over £1bn of levelling up funding.
“This will empower communities in every part of the UK to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people. It will mean more jobs, more opportunities and a brighter future for our towns and the people who live and work in them.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:
“I wholeheartedly welcome the launch of the UK Government’s Long Term Plan for Towns. It’s great to see that seven Scottish towns will benefit from £20 million each from the latest round of levelling up funding which so far has seen us invest more than £2.4 billion right across Scotland to help grow our economy and level up the country. I look forward to seeing these towns – and the communities within them – use this investment to breathe new life into the places where they live, work and play.”

‘Our Long-Term Plan for Towns’, published today, is carefully designed to complement the wider levelling up programme, working alongside funding for specific projects across the UK, our targeted support to the places most in need through Levelling Up Partnerships, and initiatives supporting economic growth in wider city regions like investment zones.

The Long-Term Plan for Towns will require town boards to develop their own long-term plan for their town, with funding over 10 years and aligned to the issues that research shows people want the most, such as:

  • Improving transport and connections to make travel easier for residents and increase visitor numbers in centres to boost opportunities for small businesses and create jobs.
  • Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour to keep residents safe and encourage visitors through better security measures and hotspot policing
  • Enhancing town centres to make high streets more attractive and accessible, including repurposing empty shops for new housing, creating more green spaces, cleaning up streets or running market days

Local people will be at the heart of decisions, through direct membership of a new Towns Board, which will include community groups, MPs, businesses, cultural and sports organisations, public sector agencies and local authorities for each town and through a requirement to engage local people on the long-term plan for each town.

The Government has also announced a new ‘Towns Taskforce, sitting in the Department for Levelling Up and reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Levelling Up Secretary. This will help town boards to develop their plans, and advise them on how best to take advantage of government policies, unlock private and philanthropic investment and work with communities.

A new ‘High Streets and Towns Task Force’ will also be established, building on the success of the existing version, providing each selected town with bespoke, hands-on support.