A million opportunities to “put smile back” on face of Angus town centres

Arbroath High Street
Arbroath High Street

High streets, heritage and the expansion of a Kirriemuir-led initiative to create a dementia-friendly community could all benefit from a million-pound windfall aimed at injecting fresh impetus into the town centres of Angus.

But the authority is facing a race against time to spend the seven-figure sum after councillors heard capital projects must be completed by September next year or the leftover cash will have to be repaid to the Scottish Government’s town centre fund from which it came.

The £1.08m is the Angus share of £50m made available to councils across Scotland to support town centres under an action plan aimed at increasing footfall, encouraging town centre living and enhancing community empowerment.

Councillors have opted for a burgh distribution based on population, rather than a localities-based approach and have now agreed to embark on a consultation project for feedback on a range of potential projects already identified as possible avenues for the funding support.

Under the breakdown, projected shares would be Arbroath, £312k; Brechin, £94k; Carnoustie, £148k; Forfar, £184k; Kirriemuir, £77k; Monifieth, £107k; and Montrose £156k.

Angus finance director Ian Lorimer said feedback from the previous charrette programme had been used to help identify projects which might be supported.

The ideas will be firmed up in a July public consultation, with the pioneering Kirriemuir Connections initiative of creating a dementia-friendly town centre proposed as an Angus-wide project worthy of investment on a town-by-town basis.

Town-specific suggestions include proposals to contribute to two major upcoming Angus anniversaries in 2020, the 700th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath and the 800th anniversary of Brechin Cathedral.

In Carnoustie, landscaping around the library and the improvement of the underpass leading to the golf course and beach are options, while Kirriemuir could see £20,000 invested in the town centre public toilets.

Forfar’s gateway approach at the town’s West Port could be in line for more than £150,000 worth of improvements in a bid to build on good work already done by the town’s volunteer Forfar in Flower group.

The list of potential projects also include enhancements to the area around Monifieth war memorial and, in Montrose, a suggested £100k-plus programme of improvements to the burgh’s historic closes to link in with work being undertaken by the Mo Revival group.

Arbroath East and Lunan Councillor Derek Wann, said: “I welcome this report which will now allow us as local councillors, along with local business and retailers to discuss projects that could in some small way improve our town centres.

“Our retailers are all hard working to do their bit in the high street and surrounding areas, by organising clean-up events, looking after the flower bikes and even participating in a bit of weeding on the street and this is something we can now do in a time of austerity to put a smile back on the town centre.

“Let’s get speaking and working out what best way to spend this.”