Falkirk ‘needs big ideas and more government cash’ to bring town centre alive

This year's Charities Day was another success for the town centre and many good causes - but how to get people to visit all year round
This year's Charities Day was another success for the town centre and many good causes - but how to get people to visit all year round

Falkirk needs long term government investment from both sides of the border in it bid to rebuild the flagging fortunes of the town centre.

That’s the view of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which is urging both the Scottish Government and UK Government to direct the Scottish National Investment Bank and the UK Stronger Towns fund towards projects that would boost High Street trade.

The level of commitment demanded goes beyond a recent grant designed to bring empty shop units back into productive use, but - as highlighted in a TV news report on Falkirk this week - the number of premises which have fallen empty since the start of 2016 is a key concern.

Catriona Cripps, FSB’s Area Leader for the West of Scotland, said: “More than 35,000 people call Falkirk their home, but towns like this have recently faced real pressure from big business and public sector closures.

“That’s why FSB is calling on governments north and south in border for long term investment in our local towns.

“This new supply of cash should help them adapt to current challenges but also help them to lay the groundwork to be great places to live in the future.”

An FSB report highlights innovative work by Scottish councils to fill empty units, but wants initiatives such as installing co-working spaces and installing town centre recycling facilities to be rolled out more widely.

Catriona Cripps said: “Over the past few years we’ve seen many closures in Falkirk, which has left empty properties in our town.

“To tackle this problem, we need to think more creatively about filling these gaps.

“In our report we suggest we need to press for new facilities, such as recycling stations and vehicle charging points, to be located in the centres of our local places.

“The investment recently announced by Falkirk Council from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund is welcome news, but sustained and strategic investment will be needed to turn around the fortunes of Falkirk and other similar Scottish towns.

“We want to hear from businesses and communities about what they see as the future of their town. Help us make the case to improve your town by sharing your ideas in videos and selfies using the hashtag #FSBmyTown.”