Councils to share £50m fund to ‘keep high streets alive’

Fife will be the largest beneficiary of a £50 million fund set up to help Scotland’s ailing town centres, it has been announced.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay revealed the authority would receive over £4.3 million from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund.

The cash pot, announced by Mr Mackay as part of his 2019-20 budget deal, will support schemes aimed at revitalising towns across the country.

All 32 local authorities will receive a share of the cash, with councils deciding how to allocate the money in their areas.

Aberdeenshire will get almost £3.3 million, while councillors in the capital will receive more than £2.6 million. A further £3 million will go to Scotland’s largest local authority, Glasgow City Council.

Inverclyde will get the smallest sum of any mainland authority after being allocated £660,000.

The funding comes as traditional high street stores continue to be hit hard by the growth in both out of town retail parks and online shopping.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Finance Secretary said: “Town centres are facing challenges across Scotland in adapting to a changing retail climate, and it is important that we help them to diversify and adjust to overcome these challenges.

“I want to make sure we can keep life in our high streets, and ensure they continue to be thriving places for communities to live, work and enjoy.

“This £50 million fund will enable local authorities to stimulate and support a wide range of investments which will encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, and create an increase in footfall through local improvements and partnerships.”

Councillor Steven Heddle, economy spokesman for the local government body Cosla, said: “Local economic development drives so much of the other vital things that councils do on behalf of our communities. 

“This was a message we promoted as part of our essential services campaign ahead of this year’s budget. We were clear that inclusive growth must be supported through investment in local government.

“We welcome today’s announcement of £50 million for investment in our towns and we will continue to work with the Scottish Government on our shared priority of inclusive growth and growing Scotland’s economy.”

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