Support for moves to promote Langholm's regeneration
WHOLEHEARTED support is being given by the area's politicians to bring more employment and prosperity to Langholm.
They were commenting after the second jobs summit in as many months, the first having been organised by David Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, and the second by Paul Wheelhouse, business minister and South of Scotland MSP.
Labour's Colin Smyth, South of Scotland MSP, said: "The clear message at the second summit was that both governments must get their act together and start working together.
"People want to see them investing in the area to create the environment needed to grow businesses and attract new ones so young people don't have to leave to find jobs.
"There is already a lot of work being done by, for example, the council's Business Gateway service but the level of support needed after recent job losses is significant and only government has access to such resources.
"There is huge enthusiasm and great community spirit in Langholm to make the town successful and prosperous. Investment is needed in infrastructure such as the A7, extending the Borders railway to Carlisle through Langholm and improving broadband and mobile connectivity."
Joan McAlpine, South of Scotland SNP MSP, said Mr Wheelhouse stressed the need for economic development agencies to be clearer about what help was available for small businesses and that the South of Scotland Enterprise agency would play a vital role in helping Langholm.
He called on stakeholders to outline what help they felt the town needed and said solutions had to be community-led, with businesses playing their part.
It was suggested that a ‘brand’ could be an option, following in the footsteps of Wigtown Book Town, which has been a great success.
Ms McAlpine said: “I will continue to work with Chris Harrison of Waulkmill Cider to support his idea of making Langholm a ‘distillery destination’ but the whole community needs to come together to drive change.
“I was delighted to hear the Eskdale Foundation is using the government’s community empowerment laws to develop the former police station.
“They talked about accessing funding through the Scottish government’s Scottish Land Fund and the Rural Housing Fund. They are clearly self-starters and an example to follow."
She asked for assurance that Scottish Enterprise and the council were talking to Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which was considering moving its headquarters to Carlisle, to match any offer it received from the city council. She was told the talks were private and would not be made public.
Oliver Mundell, Dumfriesshire MSP, said: "It is important that the Scottish government continues to support jobs and investment in Langholm and the surrounding communities.
"A lot of constructive points were made by those who matter most, namely, those living and working here every day and it is clear this is now for the community and businesses to take forward.
"The ball is firmly in the government's court and I'll press the government to ensure the South of Scotland Enterprise agency is properly supported and given the resources to support the community-led plan."