A Falkirk-based digital marketing specialist has become the latest high profile local business player to back a council scheme aimed at halting the town centre’s decline.
As detailed in this week’s Falkirk Herald the council is spreading the word about how its plan to move the council headquarters to the town centre while opening a new arts centre could transform Falkirk’s flagging fortunes.
The aim is to acknowledge that the presence of big brand retail as a main visitor lure is a thing of the past, and that radical action has to be taken to win new public interest in the town centre.
The scheme was stymied by the council’s Labour group last month, with claims that an estimated £45million cost could be better spent on other local priorities - but the business community has rallied to the SNP-led plan.
Last week Howgate Shopping Centre Suzanne Arkinson and Falkirk Delivers chairman Brian Flynn (owner of licensed venue Behind the Wall) weighed in behind the ambitious scheme - even before the loss to the town of Watt Brothers and news that clothes store Bonmarche is in receivership.
This week Scott Henderson, managing director of Falkirk and Edinburgh-based digital marketing specialist Crunchy Carrots has echoed their comments, and their fears if - as he sees it - no meaningful remedial action is taken.
He said: “Ithink Falkirk has come a long way in the last ten to 20 years - there has been big investment, starting with the Falkirk Wheel, we’ve got the Helix, the Kelpies.
“I think having the (council) HQ and the Arts Centre within the town centre will have a huge positive impact on the town. I worry that if it’s not directly in the town centre what kind of impact will that have in the future, going forward.
“I also feel there will be an increased vibrancy within the town - the shops, the restaurants, the cafes will thrive from this”.
However the proposals have met resistance from Labour councillors, some of whom appear to see the arts centre as a vanity project.
Labour Group leader Robert Bissett said: “At a time when they are cutting money for our schools, children’s clubs, bus services, community groups, care of the elderly and vulnerable, waste collection, community safety, poverty alleviation and leisure and recreational facilities ... Labour cannot, and will not, accept the spending of an estimated £45 million-plus on one site in the centre of Falkirk.”