Argyll and Bute MSP, Michael Russell, has called on Argyll and Bute Council to make the most of the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce a £50 million Town Centre Fund.
Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, announced the new ring-fenced fund – that will be available through the local authority settlement – during his draft budget statement last month.
The proposal aims to drive local economic growth by helping town centres fund projects such as re-purposing buildings for retail, business and community enterprise, while improving access and infrastructure.
Commenting on the proposed town centre fund, Mr Russell (SNP) believes the fund could “transform” local towns.
He said: “The Finance Secretary’s plans to introduce a new £50m Town Centre Fund could help transform towns like Rothesay, and others across Argyll and Bute.
“The fund will be passed on through the local authority settlement, so it’s up to Argyll and Bute Council to make sure our local town centres see the benefit of this substantial investment through community improvement projects.
“All high streets across Scotland face challenges as online retail changes the way we shop. But this fund has the potential to stimulate real development in our town centres, to help communities thrive.
“I hope my parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide will get behind these Budget proposals to ensure our town centres across Argyll and Bute and all of Scotland can benefit.”
Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “Over the last few years, independent businesses have been leading a fightback on our high streets. But local traders can’t prop up our town centres on their own.
“That’s why we’re pleased to see Derek Mackay back the FSB’s idea for a new Scottish town centre diversification fund. Similarly, a below inflation increase to business rates will give many smaller firms outside existing help much needed breathing space.”