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Action in Ayrshire to be hailed as inspiration for others

Scottish Government minister backs call for people, businesses and community organisations to join Kilmarnock roadshow event. 

Innovative community work across Ayrshire will be flagged as inspirational as part of the actions needed to revitalise Scotland’s town centres.

And a Scottish Government minister is urging people, businesses and organisations to find out more about steps being taken to create a stronger, more sustainable future locally.

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur spoke ahead of an event in Kilmarnock that will discuss the Response from the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) to the New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres report. That response – Scotland’s Town Centre Action Plan Review (TCAP2) – was published earlier this year.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) is hosting the TCAP2 Roadshow South West event at CentreStage between 10am and 12pm on Thursday, October 13. The same venue will also host the Scotland’s Towns Conference on November 16, with the minister among the speakers on that day.

Mr Arthur said: “This response recognises how vital town centres like Kilmarnock’s are for Scotland’s economy and how they can help address the impact of the cost of living crisis by making it easier to do business.

“Ayrshire’s innovative businesses are leading the way in building an economy that is more resilient and works for the wellbeing of all people and communities. This builds on support for Community Wealth Building in the Ayrshire local authorities, helping businesses and other organisations boost the local economy.  

 “The Scottish Government wants to deliver net zero climate ambitions whilst helping communities and planners create better local places for businesses and communities. Supporting enterprising communities can also help us fulfil entrepreneurship ambitions set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.”

The TCAP2 roadshow will highlight the need for community collaboration to secure success, with the partnership work of Kilmarnock Business Association and East Ayrshire Council – including that around the use of East Ayrshire Gift Card to support families and businesses – in the spotlight.

North and South Ayrshire councils are also expected to be represented, with the pan-Ayrshire drive to develop community wealth building being explored.

Councillor Douglas Reid, East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Community Wealth Building and Regeneration, said: “We are delighted that the roadshow is being hosted in Kilmarnock and are also looking forward to the annual conference being held here in November.

“Although we are living in very challenging times, we are seeing so many great examples of partnership working between community groups, business associations and the council who are all working hard to support our towns and businesses. I look forward to some very productive discussions coming from both the roadshow and conference.”

Scotland’s Towns Partnership Chief Officer Phil Prentice said: “Some of the work that has – and is – taking place across Ayrshire to improve high streets and wider towns is trailblazing.

“For example, the way in which the East Ayrshire Gift Card has been used to help people on lower incomes to support local businesses has helped inspire millions of pounds of investment across the country in the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card.

“There are other examples too of communities and councils working in partnership to deliver projects that will help tackle the recovery from Covid-19, the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis. I’m looking forward to exploring them in more detail.”

The roadshow was originally due to visit Kilmarnock on September 14, but was postponed following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Actions from the TCAP2 report include:

  • Embedding a town centre first approach to meet community needs and tackle climate change
  • Incentivising entrepreneurship
  • Limiting out-of-town developments
  • Encouraging digital transformation
  • Exploring a new online sales tax to help traditional businesses compete with those operating online

The full report can be read here.