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Councillor concerned list is out of date

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
Councillor concerned list is out of date

AN economic development plan which has successfully secured £18.2m of external funding for investment in local communities needs to be more inclusive, a councillor has argued.

The Community Led Economic Regeneration Framework (CLERF), which was set up by Dumfries and Galloway Council in 2021/22, has awarded large grants totalling £782,461 to substantial projects over the past two years.

These included 11 regeneration projects, such as Annan Harbour Regeneration Project (£416,051), Moffat Space To Grow scheme (£41,417), and Old School in Thornhill (£16,774).

These grants then allowed the community groups leading the projects to successfully attract further investment from the Scottish and UK governments.

Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Katie Hagmann doesn’t want to see other towns miss out on potential investment opportunities.

Based on a council decision taken ten years ago, the following areas were identified as a priority for cash injections: Stranraer, Whithorn, Wigtown, Sanquhar, Kirkconnel/Kelloholm, Dumfries, Annan, Gretna, and Langholm.

She said: “We’re being asked to agree projects in specific towns, and I’m a little bit uncomfortable that we’re then discounting other communities from being able to bid in this.”

Stuart McMillan, the council’s strategic economic investment manager, explained that projects elsewhere which could have a major impact would still be considered.

He added: “But this gives us a little bit of direction across a very large region.

“And it relates to high levels of multiple deprivations and these types of social characteristics.”

But Councillor Hagmann, above, added: “The world is literally a different place. We’ve had a global pandemic, sea temperatures are rising, climate change is hurtling towards us.

“So, to base our guidance on a report from ten years ago as a starting point I don’t think is actually relevant, and I do think we need to review it.”

However, Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall said: “I’m quite comfortable with the list. I think there is flexibility for special cases if there was a town or settlement that needed to be made a priority.”

Councillors agreed to move forward with the priority areas for investment, but to also consider other areas where economic regeneration opportunities arise.


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