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February deadline for £20m spending plans

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
February deadline for £20m spending plans

DETAILED plans for the spending of a £20m windfall for Dumfries must be drawn up within the next six months.

The UK Government has promised Dumfries and Galloway Council the huge financial injection, but the money will only be released after a ‘town board’ is set up and firm plans are in place for splashing the cash in Dumfries.

It has also been revealed that the money should be spent focusing on themes including safety and security and heritage and regeneration.

It was revealed in September last year that Dumfries was one of seven Scottish towns that would be given £20m endowment style funds each over ten years to invest in local priorities.

An update on progressing the plans will be provided at the council’s economy and resources committee next Tuesday. Two councillors will also be nominated to sit on the town board.

A report by Stuart McMillan, the council’s strategic economic investment manager, reads: “The town board is to be independently chaired and be formed to represent community interests, business perspectives and public organisations.

“The plan they will develop must include a ten-year vision, and an initial three-year investment plan. The guidance is clear that where existing partnerships, strategies and action plans exist that they do not need to be reinvented but can be adapted to suit this new purpose.

“The UK Government has defined the areas that the Long-Term Plan should focus on with themes of safety and security, high streets, heritage and regeneration, and transport and connectivity.

“They emphasise the importance of co-design of the plan with communities and stakeholders and also the potential for identifying how the plan can bring in additional resources from private investment, philanthropy and other public sector sources.”

A timeline has been drawn up, which calls on the council to have formed the town board and for the body to have met by April 1 at the latest.

The long-term plan created by the board for Dumfries should then be submitted to the UK Government by August 1.

Once approved, the initial investment funds will then be released to the council.

The council has also received £50,000 to support the upfront costs of setting up a town board. Once established, a further £200,000 will be released at the start of financial year 2024/25 to help develop the long-term plan, with activities such as community engagement events and commissioning technical expertise in project development.

This £20m investment in Dumfries is part of the UK Government’s ‘levelling-up fund’.

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