Council consider town task force
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