You can help our towns to thrive

La Porte Precinct in Grangemouth has seen business improve
La Porte Precinct in Grangemouth has seen business improve

I am delighted that The Falkirk Herald is championing our independent businesses with our Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign.

The newspaper is very much at the heart of the local community so it’s appropriate that we should be offering our support - and, hopefully, the support of our loyal readers as well - to the many unique outlets at the heart of our town centre and surrounding areas.

Our high streets have been squeezed for many years by out-of-town developments and increasing use of the internet, but they are now making a resurgence and it’s up to us to help ensure that they not only survive but prosper in the future.

Increasingly, shopping is being seen as a leisure pursuit and, while the town centres must adapt to that by ensuring the facilities are up to standard and the night-time economy is supported and sustainable, we can play a part too.

Every pound spent locally can have huge benefits for the area, helping local businesses who, in turn, will employ local people.

Our town centres have already undergone something of a transformation in recent years.

In Falkirk, now reaping the benefits of being an established Business Improvement District, a lot of work has gone on to improve the look of the area, from regular clean-ups to major townscape work, and now attention is focusing on how the east end of the High Street can be rejuvenated.

Grangemouth’s La Porte Precinct is enjoying something of revival with more shops opening while Stenhousemuir has been a beneficiary of Falkirk Council’s rolling programme of improvements to shopping centres.

The difficult economic climate saw that process stall in Denny for a while but plans are now in place to move the project forward and several of the dilapidated Church Walk blocks have now been demolished.

But, whatever cosmetic changes are made, our town centres are nothing without a diverse range of successful businesses – that’s why we’re urging you to back our new campaign.

Over the course of this year, we will be throwing the spotlight on some of the successful businesses in the area, while bringing you great deals to allow you to sample some of the fantastic products and services they have on offer.

And, as well as regular slots in the paper, you can check out our stories and videos online, as well as following us, and our sister papers across the country, on Twitter using the hashtag #jpshoplocal.

Please play your part by pledging to Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local!