Shopkeepers have been invited to join a working group to promote their businesses and help beat off the growing challenge from the internet.
A meeting organised by Provost Pat Reid and Councillor Dennis Goldie promoting the ‘Think Falkirk’ campaign and aimed at giving Falkirk High Street a shot in the arm attracted a bumper audience to the Park Hotel.
While many traders raised their concerns about the rates bills and perceived lack of support from the town hall and other business agencies, there was positive interest in taking the group forward.
This week Provost Reid said he was encouraged so many were willing to play a role, working with the council to promote the town’s main shopping area.
He said: “There was some frustration vented, particularly with regards to rates, but that was understandable and expected. On the positive side the possibility of free parking in our town centre at certain times on certain days is worth exploring as is the suggestion buses should be allowed into some parts of the town centre that are ‘no go’ areas at the moment.
Councillor Goldie, head of the council’s economic development strategy, said: “We have to accept our businesses are in a difficult situation when it comes to the rates they have to pay. They did concede however these are set by the government and all the council does is collect them for a small fee.
“The Provost and I both agree that the level of rates should be looked at but that is not our remit as a local authority. The current levels were set years ago when the Scottish economy was a lot more vibrant than it is today and obviously it would be a lot fairer for everyone in the business community if they were based on what shape the economy is actually in.
“The Scottish Government said there would be a re-assessment in 2015, but to step into line behind Westminster that will not happen until 2017 which is very frustrating for our business community and something we sympathise with.
“We were both delighted with the support the meeting attracted. We listened to what our business community had to say, there was a good exchange of views and we were given fair chance to respond. The next step will be to form the working group as quickly as possible and take some of the suggestions forward in the very near future.”