COUNCILLORS have made a plea for the local authority to work with businesses and property owners in the region to rid town centre buildings of eyesore weeds.
Concerns about the state of both council and commercially-owned properties across Dumfries and Galloway were raised by several ward representatives present at Tuesday’s Economy and Resources Committee meeting.
Commenting on one neglected building in Dumfries, councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “If you go down English Street there’s an old building there, Treasure Cave, and half the building has fallen down. You’ve got trees growing out of it and trees growing out of other buildings in all Dumfries and Galloway towns.”
Councillor Sean Marshall added: “Annan, like other places in the region, has got some strange flora growing from quite a lot of buildings on the High Street and the council aren’t keeping their end up as well because the town hall isn’t looking great either.”
A £1 million ‘town centre living fund’ has been set-up by the local authority to “support the long-term sustainability of local town centres” and will see repairs carried out on run-down council-owned buildings.
The committee’s director, Lorna Meahan, said this will begin allocating funds to specific projects “very shortly”.
Councillor Marshall commented that he was “glad” action was being taken to fix-up council properties, but added there is an “opportunity” for the council to work with businesses and property owners in the region to facilitate a wider town centre regeneration operation.
Cllr Marshall continued: “I know it’s the private sector, but I think there’s an opportunity because obviously the council maybe have to get specialist equipment in like Hiabs or cherry pickers and it might be a specialist contractor, so I think there’s an opportunity to work with private owners that maybe have got things growing out of the roof et cetera to try and work in conjunction with them and maybe share the opportunity for them to actually get involved when we’re sprucing up the council buildings.”
Councillor Richard Brodie, who has raised the matter of Annan’s dilapidated High Street buildings a number of times in recent months, added: “It is a major concern not only in Annan but all across the region. It’s thinking about how we work with local business to provide an economic solution to their problems and our problems when we get our buildings deforested – how do we spread that out to the businesses with our town centres to make it affordable?”
In response, Ms Meahan said dealing with private property owners is a “different issue”.
She added: “It’s maybe something we need to come back to members and get some advice on.”