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MSPs tour town for inquiry ideas

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By Fiona Reid
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MSPs tour town for inquiry ideas

POLITICIANS and government officials were in Dumfries this week to hear how the town is trying to revitalise itself.

The fact-finding visit by members of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee was part of an inquiry into the future of Scotland’s town centres.

They toured the sunny High Street with representatives of the Midsteeple Quarter action group and heard about their project, then held discussions with local businesses and stakeholders.

The committee is currently looking at the challenges for Scotland’s high streets and the impact on them of e-commerce. Following more evidence gathering, they will report back on what actions are needed to support modern and thriving town centres.

VISIT . . . convenor Claire Baker MSP

Convenor Claire Baker MSP said: “We heard a lot about Dumfries and the Midsteeple Quarter and their future plans. They are making good progress here and had real community engagement and involvement. They are doing something really positive.

“We are looking for good examples and we can see if they offer solutions to other places in Scotland.”

She revealed it was her first trip to Dumfries and described it as “a lovely town centre, large, but with lots of to let signs.”

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth is on the committee and also took part in Monday’s session.

He hopes lessons learned in Dumfries, particularly the Midsteeple Quarter project, will be able to be rolled out elsewhere.

Mr Smyth said: “It was great to be able to welcome committee members to my home town and to show off the fantastic work of the Midsteeple Quarter in Dumfries.

“Our inquiry is seeking to bring forward recommendations to demonstrate how Scotland’s town centres can thrive in this post pandemic world, and be vibrant, resilient and accessible places which meet the economic, social and environmental needs of our communities.”

The inquiry will run until the summer recess, when the committee will deliver a report on their findings.

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