Representatives from Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) were in the town earlier this week and met ‘a few carefully selected people.’, according to local campaigner John Dowson.
And Dumfries and Galloway Council yesterday confirmed that almost £50,000 has been budgeted for PAS’s work. In 2017 environmental consultants Ironside Farrar Ltd were brought in to draw up a plan for Dumfries’ future, but it has never been made public.
Commenting on the latest round of consultants, Mr Dowson said: “This whole process has been kept fairly secret from the public. As far as I am aware, there has been no public announcement. Many people are fed up hearing about city consultants coming to Dumfries to tell us what we already know.
“I do not know if we can trust the council to publish the outcome of this report when it is finished and even if they do, the question is – will they ever deliver on the recommendations that are made?” Former council leader Mr Dowson also says he is now on a mission to ‘find out what is being done in our name and with our money’.
Responding, a Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesman said the development of the project has been an ‘open process’ with reports to committees. He said: “PAS were appointed to develop a shared vision and ten-year action plan for Dumfries Town Centre in partnership with the local community.
“PAS is Scotland’s leading place and active citizenship charity, which helps individuals and communities help shape their place. The process requires PAS to undertake a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process that will determine a shared vision and action plan for Dumfries in 2030.”
He also confirmed the report by Ironside Farrar in December 2017, as well as all other relevant reports prior to the appointment of PAS, will be reviewed as part of this process.