Rachael Hamilton MSP has vowed to help reverse the decline of Hawick High Street, as the country exits the Covid pandemic, following her re-election.
Mrs Hamilton met with local traders along the High Street, calling for greater support for Hawick town centre, following a trend of decline spanning many years.
The Borders MSP wants to drive up competition and support local businesses, by allowing the council to exempt the high street and town centres from paying any business rates.
With many closed shutters and ‘to let’ signs along the street, Mrs Hamilton wants communities to have the ‘first right to buy’ when local businesses are facing closing their doors. Further to this, in a bid to increase footfall in the town centre itself, she believes that it is vital to relax planning laws to allow for the re-development of long-term unoccupied business properties into good quality housing for young families.
Accessing the UK Government’s £4.8 billion UK ‘Levelling Up’ Fund, which supports town centre and high street regeneration, is a key priority for Mrs Hamilton.
Rachael Hamilton said:
“This has been a tough year for town centre businesses with the Covid restrictions, and I want to see Hawick High Street thriving again.
“We know that the High Street in Hawick has been struggling for many years with the loss of banks and other retailers, but we cannot let this trend continue.
“Under the SNP, every year we see more and more local businesses shutting up shop for good on our high streets.
“Local businesses have worked extremely hard to make their premises Covid secure, now we need to see the SNP Government in Edinburgh step up to the mark and provide Hawick with more funding to reverse the decline of the high street.
“We must look at all the options on the table to ensure we find a viable solution for Hawick.
“From the UK Government ‘Levelling Up’ fund to relaxing business rates on the high street, no stone must be unturned.
“I will be working hard in the coming weeks to establish what additional funding we can secure to improve the fortunes of Hawick town centre”.