THE organisation driving Langholm’s regeneration has appointed the manager who will implement its community action plan.
Nicol Nicolson, who grew up in the town and currently works as a journalist for ITN News in London, will join the Langholm Alliance as its community enterprise manager in October.
An award of £60,000 was given to the alliance by South of Scotland Enterprise and Dumfries and Galloway Council to employ a manager to develop the plan.
The plan brings together eight key priorities: infrastructure and energy; business and economic development; tourism; sports, leisure and outdoor activities; arts and culture; heritage; health and social care; and children and young people.
Nicol’s remit is to support implementation of the plan; progress key projects; develop an events programme; and develop regeneration activity.
Nicol said: “I’m delighted and honoured to have been offered this opportunity by the Langholm Alliance.
“Delivering on the plan is no mean feat but I’m fully committed to helping make Langholm and Eskdale the best possible place to live and work in and visit by 2030.
“Few areas can match our existing assets and unflappable community spirit and I look forward to working with and for everyone to realise our full potential.
“First and foremost, I want everyone in and around Langholm to feel invested in this hugely exciting plan and I hope you’ll share all your hopes, ideas and concerns with me along the way.”
Denis Male, alliance chairman, said he was delighted they had finally been able to complete the interview process for the post and appoint Nicol.
The role had been on hold because of COVID-19 since March. During that time, the alliance and its advisers have held monthly conference call meetings to keep the process moving and are currently getting the High Street premises ready for a start date of October 1 and advancing what parts of the plan they could.
An assistant’s post will be created to support the manager and this is being funded by Ewe Hill 16 windfarm and the Stevenson Trust. It will be advertised shortly.
When the coronavirus allows, Nicol will be joined in the offices by Peter Renwick of SURF (Scotland’s Urban Regeneration Forum) who has worked with the alliance on its tourism and other projects for two years.
Through his work a £3,000 marketing grant has been given to the alliance by the Scottish Towns Partnership and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
It is hoped businesses in Langholm will take part in the marketing strategy to attract customers from outwith the community.
Denis said: “For three and a half years a lot of hard work by a lot of people has gone into getting the community action plan ready.
“We must not forget the excellent support of Paul Nellis of the Scottish Community Development Council who helped to develop and covered the cost of the plan.”
John Galloway, who chairs the alliance’s tourism sub-group and is chairman of Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community council, said: “Nicol’s appointment will now allow us to start delivering many of the actions listed in the community action plan which was launched last year. “I’m sure that many of the talents held by Nicol will allow us to get this off to a good start and we wish him all the best.”
David Stevenson, chairman of the Stevenson Trust, said: “It’s good to see someone now returning to Langholm having forged a successful career in the media, both in the UK and abroad. “This experience will enable Nicol to lead the regeneration of Langholm as a place to live, work and visit. “We wish him well and look forward to working with him in bringing our own trust’s projects to fruition.”
Katherine Latimer, who chairs Langholm Regeneration Group, added: “We’re delighted at Nicol’s appointment. We look forward to working with him and are sure his enthusiasm and diligence will ensure the community action plan is done well.”
Margaret Pool chairs the Langholm Initiative and runs Welcome to Langholm. The Initiative is part of the alliance and both she and Kevin Cumming are on the tourism sub-group. Campbell Scott, a board member, is also on the alliance. She said: “Nicol has held a couple of photography exhibitions in Welcome to Langholm. I don’t know him very well so I look forward to getting to know him better once he settles in.”
Councillor Ronnie Tait, Annandale East and Eskdale, said his priority was networking. He added: “The main thing for me is that he needs to network better than has happened in the past with all the organisations at length. “The fact he will be in an office in the High Street will help. People can see it and go in. “That’s the main thing; he has to talk to every section in the town which is going to help with regeneration. Time will tell.”