Coun­cil con­sider town task force

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - NEWS - Stu­art McFar­lane

The cre­ation of a new ac­tion group to look at trans­form­ing Dum­fries town cen­tre is set to be con­sid­ered by coun­cil­lors next week.

The plans for the group will go in front of the econ­omy, en­vi­ron­ment and in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee.

A re­port for mem­bers states there is a need to “rapidly take ac­tion in the short, medium and long term” to help re­vi­talise the town cen­tre’s fortunes.

Ac­cord­ing to the draft terms of ref­er­ence, the ac­tion group – made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lo­cal de­vel­op­ment trusts, large high street busi­nesses, small and medium-sized en­ter­prises, as well as hous­ing and cre­ative or­gan­i­sa­tions – will act as a source of im­par­tial ad­vice for de­ci­sion mak­ers on the com­mit­tee.

The pro­pos­als come in the wake of a spate of busi­nesses across the High Street clos­ing their doors in re­cent months – in­clud­ing Evans, Semichem, Thorn­tons and cloth­ing gi­ants Next from the Lore­burne Cen­tre.

The fears over the street’s fu­ture led to crit­i­cism from lo­cal busi­ness own­ers Gino and Bar­bara Tam­bur­rini, who told the Stan­dard that more busi­nesses on the street were ready to close their doors if ur­gent ac­tion wasn’t taken to halt the de­cline.

They also crit­i­cised the lack of vis­i­bil­ity of the coun­cil in tak­ing steps to help busi­nesses on the street and ac­cused them of be­ing “silent” on the is­sue.

Along­side the cre­ation of the ac­tion group, the re­port also iden­ti­fies var­i­ous short-term ac­tions aimed at im­prov­ing con­fi­dence in the town in­clud­ing build­ing clean­ing and re-paint­ing, as well as ad­dress­ing con­cerns about va­cant prop­er­ties, with 16 of the 82 street-fac­ing units cur­rently empty.

And it also pro­poses the in­tro­duc­tion of a scheme sim­i­lar to the in­tro­duc­tion of a ‘re­tail doctor’ for the street, which of­fered ad­vice and sup­port to a to­tal of 28 busi­nesses in 2013-14.

Coun­cil­lors will ex­am­ine the re­port and vote on the ac­tion group pro­pos­als at the meet­ing on Tues­day morn­ing.

Con­cerns voiced Gino and Bar­bara Tam­bur­rini

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