Keeping Town Centres Vibrant

Remember this?

Kirkwall’s empty streets at the start of the Covid19 lockdown in 2020

That was only 2 years ago, March 2020, when shopping was for essentials only and even more people went online for purchases. Stromness was even more of a ghost town as tourists stayed away and we saw just how many properties in the main street were holiday or short term lets.

A committee of the Scottish Parliament is looking at the future for our town centres.

The Economy and Fair Work Committee seeks to identify the current challenges for high streets, and the barriers to their success, and to explore the extent to which an increasing use of ecommerce is impacting on Scotland’s town centres.  It aims to propose action needed to support modern and thriving town centres.

The Committee’s inquiry has three areas of focus:

  • Keeping town centres alive – including how they have changed over recent years, their strengths and weaknesses, and who or what can drive positive change in Scottish town centres.
  • The new realities of Scottish retail – including how this sector has evolved over the last decade, the impact of these changes on town centres and what role fiscal policy levers should have in supporting this sector.
  • Ecommerce in Scotland – including the implications for businesses of increased online shopping and digital activity, and the role of Scottish SMEs in the ecommerce sector.
Image credit: – Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Claire Baker MSP, Convener of the Economy and Fair Work Committee said:

“Scotland’s town centres have traditionally been the heartbeat of our communities bringing people together to live, work, shop and socialise.

“However, traditional town centres are under pressure and under threat, with too many shops closing and too many high streets dominated by ‘to let’ signs.

“Changing retail trends, including the growth in ecommerce and the expansion of retail park alternatives, combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to create a difficult trading environment.

“We want to find out how to diversify and grow high street activity, and are particularly keen to hear from businesses and members of the public on what makes a successful and thriving town centre.

“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.”

You can give your views here:

The call for views closes on Wednesday 16th March.

Orkney Folk Festival in 2017 photo Nick Morrison

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1 reply »

  1. One word …….TESCO……

    I really don’t like Tesco, and it bugs me how they always get what they want, generally to the detriment of small shops, and, ultimately, the detriment of small town centres.
    An out-of-town Tesco opens, next thing people know there’s no such thing as a greengrocer, or a hardware shop, or an electrical shop, or an independent music shop etc. etc. etc. But people want cheap goods, at whatever price! They’re told that ‘Every Little Helps” and they believe it, but suddenly the only choice is what Tesco choose to let you choose! and by then it’s too late, as the small shops have gone, and another piece of land is covered by a huge Tesco, with it’s accompanying petrol station.
    Since the Tesco store opened in Kirkwall we haven’t set foot through its doors – and don’t intend to. The Co-op is more ethical, just as economical, and not as domineering.

    O.K. end of rant!!!

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