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Town Centre Fund Essential for High Street Future

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed talks between the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Government to establish a Town Centre Regeneration Fund, to help boost local communities and local high streets across Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives are pressing the Scottish Government for the fund to be included in the 2009-10 budget.

SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said;

“Sadly there has been a lack of investment in many high streets and town centres across Scotland for some time now. This lack of investment has been exacerbated by the economic slowdown. Five towns in Scotland – Kirkintilloch, Clydebank, Rutherglen, Kilmarnock and Cumbernauld, have already been predicted to turn into “ghost towns” due to the number of empty retails units which is set to increase as the economic crisis deepens.

“Local shops are at the heart of communities, especially in remote and rural areas. They support local economies and provide a vital service to some of the most isolated in society including those who do not have access to a car.

“Our members are constantly driving up standards in their stores but are finding it increasing difficult to compete with edge of town shopping centres especially when local residents are reluctant to shop in high streets which often display a lack of civic pride with litter, graffiti, vacant shops and youths hanging around in groups.

“We want to ensure town centres remain vibrant and vital. A Town Centre Regeneration Fund would enable local communities to decide how resources can best be allocated to maintain town centres and create an environment where residents want to shop and spend their free time.”

New Finance Schemes Must Ensure Banks Support Convenience Retailers

The Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) has welcomed the new package of measures announced by Lord Mandelson, to help small and medium business survive the financial downturn. The package includes the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, securing up to £1.3bn of additional bank loans, to small firms with a turnover of up to £25 million.

SGF’s Chief Executive, John Drummond said;

“SGF supports any moves to make cash flow and credit more accessible, especially at a time when a number of our members, operating perfectly healthy businesses, are finding it increasingly difficult to secure credit despite having good relationships with their banks.

“This scheme should make it easier for the banks to lend and to assist investment which is vital if community convenience stores are to have a chance of success during this economic slowdown.”

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