Seven “overlooked” towns in Scotland will each be given £20m over a ten year period to help regenerate high streets and tackle anti-social behaviour.
It comes as part of £1.1bn levelling up investment being provided to 55 towns across the UK.
Clydebank, Coatbridge, Dumfries, Elgin, Irvine, Greenock and Kilmarnock will each receive £20m from the UK Government as part of a long-term investment plan for towns that have been “overlooked and taken for granted” to be spent over the course of a decade.
The Prime Minister said the new long-term vision for towns, backed by £1bn of investment, was about putting “funding in the hands of local people” to improve their communities.
It is set to be used on local priorities such as reviving high streets, tackling anti-social behaviour, improving transport, boosting visitor numbers and growing the local economy.
Rishi Sunak said: “Towns are the place most of us call home and where most of us go to work.
“But politicians have always taken towns for granted and focused on cities.
“The result is the half-empty high streets, rundown shopping centres and anti-social behaviour that undermine many towns’ prosperity and hold back people’s opportunity — and without a new approach, these problems will only get worse.
“That changes today. Our Long-Term Plan for Towns puts funding in the hands of local people themselves to invest in line with their priorities, over the long-term. That is how we level up.”
As part of the investment, the towns will set up a town board, bringing together community leaders, employers, local authorities and the local MP, to help deliver a plan for consultation.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the town boards would be able to use a suite of regeneration powers while deploying the new funding.
Officials suggested more private sector investment could be unlocked by auctioning empty high street shops, reforming licensing rules on shops and restaurants, and supporting more housing in urban centres.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “We know that in our towns the values of hard work and solidarity, common sense and common purpose, endeavour and quiet patriotism have endured across generations.
“But for too long, too many of our great British towns have been overlooked and undervalued.
“We are putting this right through our Long-Term Plan for Towns backed by over £1bn of levelling up funding.
“This will empower communities in every part of the UK to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people.
“It will mean more jobs, more opportunities and a brighter future for our towns and the people who live and work in them.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack added: “I wholeheartedly welcome the launch of the UK Government’s Long Term Plan for Towns. It’s great to see that seven Scottish towns will benefit from £20m each from the latest round of levelling up funding which so far has seen us invest more than £2.4bn right across Scotland to help grow our economy and level up the country.
“I look forward to seeing these towns – and the communities within them – use this investment to breathe new life into the places where they live, work and play.”
Ministers have promised central government support for the town boards as they formulate their vision.
A Towns Taskforce, sitting in the Department for Levelling Up and reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Gove, will help them develop their plans and advise on how best to take advantage of government policies, unlock private and philanthropic investment and work with communities.
DLUHC said towns had been allocated funding according to the Levelling Up Needs Index, taking into account metrics covering skills, pay, productivity and health, as well as the Index of Multiple Deprivation, to ensure funding goes directly to the towns which will benefit most.
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