£1.2M heading to Moray

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Cllr Graham Leadbitter

The Moray share of the Town Centre Fund, first announced as part of the Scottish Government Budget to support town centre investment, will amount to £1,233,000.

While Moray Council will be in charge of how the money is spent locally, the Leader of Moray Council and Economic Development lead, Cllr Graham Leadbitter, seems to be aware of the need to involve communities in the decision-making.

Welcoming the funding allocation, Cllr Leadbitter said: “The announcement of very substantial Town Centre funding for Moray is hugely welcome. Over £1M has been allocated to Moray, which is a massive opportunity to support town centres in our region, both large and small.

“We want to ensure that communities across Moray have a say in what will work for them, which could be anything from environmental and streetscape improvements through to schemes to get upper floors back into residential use or splitting up larger units into easier to let smaller units.

“Our goal must be to revitalise and bring greater vibrancy to our town centres and make them even better places to live and work.”

Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead added: “This funding announcement can help transform town centres in communities across Moray.

“The health of our town centres is vital to the economic and cultural life of our communities – and this new investment can make a real difference.

“I know that my Moray Council colleagues will work with our local communities to ensure that the £1.23m is spent wisely and ensure our local town centres reap the benefits of this huge investment.

“The Town Centre Fund is part of a wider package of business support measures that will help drive economic activity in Moray, helping give our local high streets a welcome boost.”

In an article published last week, Phil Prentice, Chief Officer at Scotland’s Towns Partnership and National Programme Director for Scotland’s Improvement Districts, said that councils should learn lessons from a similar fund set up in 2009.

“Councils – who were the main beneficiaries of the fund – either didn’t have enough time to prepare capital programmes or they simply spent most of the cash on the civic realm or propping up traditional retail uses,” Mr Prentice said.

“We now have a clearer picture of retail restructuring, the level of demand for town centre housing, technology led agility in employment markets, community empowerment and the appetite for cleaner and more sustainable environments.

“An opportunity exists for all the learning in the last decade to provide a platform to ensure the Town Centre Boost Fund could have a real lasting effect.

“We all want our high streets and town centres across Scotland to be vibrant, creative, enterprising and accessible. Town centres are facing challenges as retail patterns change and evolve and it is essential that we support them to become more diverse and sustainable.”

Mr Prentice’s full article is available on https://www.scotlandstowns.org/phil_prentice_how_to_make_50_million_for_scotland_s_town_centres_go_a_long_way