Local MSP for the Linlithgow Constituency, Fiona Hyslop, has welcomed the publication of a Report from the Economy and Fair Work Committee at the Scottish Parliament which has been looking at Scotland’s Town Centres. Fiona is a member of the Committee and participated in the Town Centre Inquiry.
The Inquiry asked local businesses and organisations to identify the new realities of retail and e-commerce in Scotland and the resulting impact on town centres. ‘One Linlithgow’ was one such organisation to give evidence to the Committee, asking Fiona and the other members to consider the challenges of connecting the community to local businesses.
The Report states that the planning system needs to be strengthened to ensure no new developments are unfairly competing with town centre provisions. Further to this, large retailers have left the high streets and are re-locating to out-of-town shopping parks, and our shopping habits are changing which has also been accelerated by the Pandemic.
Speaking after the launch of the report, Fiona commented,
“This Report is key into how we can move forward to support and develop our town centres and how we can help them thrive in these difficult times.
“Much like the work of One Linlithgow, the committee suggested that towns should have a long term, strategic vision for the future, that is informed by experiences and views from the community and local businesses, driven by those who live and work there.
“Our local retail businesses are vital to our local and national economy and it is clear that the sector is experiencing significant change. The Report shows that many retailers, including independent retailers, operate a “multi-channel” model and more of Scotland’s retailers are looking to diversify and embrace new channels for selling.
“The Committee also recommended that it should be easier for Councils to have a record of ownership of all buildings to pursue repair and occupation by absentee owners of deteriorating high street properties. “
“The Committee also welcomed the Scottish Government’s retail strategy, its three heads for action and the establishment of the Retail Industry Leadership Group co-chaired by the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth and the Chief Operating Officer of the John Lewis Partnership.
“While the Scottish Government has also committed £100 million to help businesses improve their digital skills, capacity and capability, there is much to be done, and the ommittee will seek regular progress updates from the Scottish Government going forward.”
To see the Committee Report’s Recommendations in full click here: