AN EX-leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council has criticised the local authority for failing to consult with Dumfries residents before green-lighting a new town centre project.
Members of the Economy and Resources Committee met last month and agreed to allocate up to £200,000 of Covid-19 support funds to a number of business recovery initiatives in the region.
They include a plan to buy-up a large empty retail store in Dumfries and create a “multi-faceted outlet” which would be run by a local community organisation. The council has proposed the space would be used to sell local produce and house a food hall and “artisan market space”.
However, John Dowson, who has previously led the council as an independent, has accused the committee of not putting the proposals to members of the local community before approving it.
And he said it was “clear” that councillors knew “little, if anything” about the plans.
He added: “If the allocation of funds and resources to this proposal or any further feasibility study impacts negatively on any other local initiative, we need to be told about it.
“The council has recently turned away funding applications from a number of local bodies with worthy projects.
“This is a failure of service with regard to community engagement. I hope that you will raise this with the staff concerned and offer training to them to ensure that the preparation of secretive projects is not embarked upon again.”
Mr Dowson has now filed a complaint to the council over the matter.
He continued: “I am sure that local retailers will want to know why the council would seek to promote such a project without their knowledge and agreement.”