A VISION to create a more diverse and prosperous Langholm and Eskdale made significant progress at two public drop-in events on Monday.
The Langholm Alliance, which is made up of eight sub-groups, has worked for two years to put together a draft action plan which was presented for public scrutiny.
The alliance, chaired by Denis Male, has been helped to this stage by the Scottish Community Development Centre, represented by Dave Allan and Paul Nellis, and by Peter Renwick, the Langholm facilitator for SURF (Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum).
The eight sub-groups are tourism; business; heritage; sports, leisure and outdoors; arts and culture; children and young people; health and social care; and Townfoot Sports Centre.
Up to 100 people attended both drop-ins, a figure welcomed by Denis.
Mr Allan gave a short talk to the gathering, in which he said: “Lots of communities want to develop their own action plans which reflect their own priorities rather than be on the receiving end of someone else’s plan.
“The alliance are taking action on issues people have identified and brought them together to work on them.
“In the past few months we’ve started to get the detail into some of the sections. Before it’s finalised, we wanted to get it out into the community.”
“I want to thank the steering group for their hard work. It’s their and your knowledge about what matters most to Langholm which will achieve things for the community.
“The full plan will be produced from the feedback from these two sessions.”
People were asked to note down their comments at each table where they could also discuss their views with each sub-group representative. Here are some of them.
Arts and culture: hold more cultural events for young people; resurrect the music festival; develop musicianship like the Fais has in the Highlands; educational opportunities – school visits to creative industries.
Sports, leisure and outdoors: develop inter-generational sports like extreme frisbee; outdoor challenges – hill walking and more annual challenges.
Tourism: visit other towns which have been successful in improving visitor numbers to learn from them; use social and other media to promote Langholm; improve the rainy day offer; increase the number of places which offer coffee and snacks at weekends and weekdays after 3pm.
Infrastructure and energy: visit the Galloway Glens project; improve cycle routes, like the last mile south of Langholm.
Health and social care: help for hospital transport and GP appointments; Thomas Hope Hospital must be retained.
Heritage: signposting famous people from the town.
Children and young people: how to engage young people and get them involved with Xcel, particularly those from outside the town.
Business: business mentoring scheme.
Frank Steele of FTS Dyers, who leads the business group, said: “The South of Scotland Economic Partnership think that what we’ve done is fantastic and want to support us because no other town has done what we’ve done in putting all these groups together into one alliance.”
After the event, Denis said: “I think everything was really positive. The fact people came with their views, whether complementary or not, is what we were looking for.
“I’d like to thank them and the people who ran the tables. We’ll be at Langholm Show this Saturday and the draft plan is in Welcome to Langholm.”
The alliance will pull all the comments together and launch the final plan early in October.