Scottish Government ministers today hailed the transformational impact of people choosing local, highlighting its importance in securing a new future for Scotland’s towns.
Local Government Minister Joe FitzPatrick and Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur spoke as they heard for themselves the work taking place in one town to enhance its economy and the environment.
They visited Linlithgow, West Lothian, to officially launch Scotland Loves Local Week, a celebration of the dedication and determination which is strengthening communities and economies across the country.
It is a message championed by members of One Linlithgow Business Improvement District (BID), who shared with them the difference that local support means to them.
It came as polling released by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) – the organisation which spearheads Scotland Loves Local with Scottish Government support – revealed that 85% of Scots agree it’s vital that people support businesses on their local high street.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “Scotland Loves Local Week is about celebrating our diverse local communities. By asking everyone to think local, whether in person or online, we protect the jobs of family, friends and neighbours, while sustaining services and creating community wealth.
“True economic and environmental sustainability lies in our local towns and villages. Scotland Loves Local brings together people and businesses to build stronger communities that can respond to challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency.
“In response to those challenges, the Scottish Government will continue to fund a range of initiatives, including Business Improvement Districts and work to digitise the Scotland Loves Local gift card. These are crucial parts of the fantastic work Scotland’s Towns Partnership is doing to raise the profile of Scottish towns, and support all communities by delivering inclusive economic recovery and long-term transformation.”
During the visit, on the banks of the Union Canal, Linlithgow Canal Centre’s Mike Smith, a BID director, highlighted the major part that those who enjoy a day trip and staycations have to play, alongside locals discovering more on their doorstep plays at the area’s visitor attractions.
One Linlithgow Deputy Chair Mark Darragh and BID Manager Tony I’Anson briefed them on projects taking place to both encourage local people to support businesses in the town, but also to bring more visitors in.
They include the distribution of 45,000 copies of the new Linlithgow Visitor Guide, aligned with the town website Linlithgow.co.uk using QR Codes, highlighting the activities and services offered by groups and businesses locally and promoting the town’s easy reach to Edinburgh. There is also a dedicated local jobs section to encourage people to work in Linlithgow.
Ministers also heard how discussions are underway to scope the potential of launching a community cardboard collecting, crushing and recycling project, initially focussed to boost recycling and reduce costs on the Mill Road Industrial Estate, but possibly extending to the town centre too.
They also chatted with other business owners, many of whom have been supporters of Scotland Loves Local since its launch in summer 2020.
Mr Darragh, who owns Play Bugs soft play centre on Mill Road, said: “Every time someone chooses local, they’re making an investment in our community, ensuring businesses can thrive. It’s a simple decision which has a profound effect – protecting jobs, safeguarding services and providing a springboard to future success. It’s something we are encouraging everyone to do.
“Businesses throughout Linlithgow work tirelessly for our community. It’s a special town with so much to look forward to. By working together, we are creating new opportunities to enhance our status as a great place in which to live, work and visit.
“But the key to unlocking all of that is for local people to support and spend with the brilliant businesses we are proud to have.
“We have a large number of locally owned and run independent businesses throughout Linlithgow and Saturday 26th saw our first Independents Day, with special offers throughout the town and the aim of highlighting what the town offers.”
One Linlithgow also relaunched its popular monthly market earlier this year, a move credited with bringing more locals and visitors out on to the High Street. Businesses throughout the town also accept the Scotland Loves Local West Lothian Gift Card.
STP Interim Chief Officer Kimberley Guthrie joined the ministers.
She said: “One Linlithgow and its members are doing tremendous work to create new opportunities for the town, which is great to see. Celebrating the determination and vision of organisations and people like this is what Scotland Loves Local Week is all about.
“Work is well underway to create a new future for Scotland’s towns as we reimagine and reenergise our places to ensure they are stronger, more sustainable and fit for the future.
“There are ambitious plans, ones which are built on values of local prosperity and ownership by people choosing local, supporting the people and businesses in their community.”
Find out more about Scotland Loves Local week at www.lovelocal.scot and by searching the hashtags #ScotlandLovesLocal and #ChooseLocal online.