Communities across Scotland are to share a £50 million fund to help revitalise their town centres.
Every local authority in the country is being allocated money through the Scottish Government’s new Town Centre Fund.
It will be up to each council how it spends the windfall, with the aim of making shopping districts more “vibrant, enterprising and accessible” in the face of plummeting high street revenues.
This could also include re-purposing empty buildings for housing or social enterprises to keep town centres bustling with all kinds of activities.
The largest lump sum, of £4.3 million, is being awarded to Fife, while Aberdeenshire will be given £3,286,000, Highland £2,965,000 and Aberdeen £1,351, 000.
A further 18 other councils will also receive grants of more than £1 million.
Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “I want to make sure we can keep life in our high streets and ensure they continue to be thriving places for communities to live, work and enjoy.
“This £50 million fund will enable local authorities to stimulate and support a wide range of investments which will encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, and create an increase in footfall through local improvements and partnerships.”
The fund has been developed in conjunction with Scottish council association Cosla, which has been pushing for more investment in town centres.
Its economy spokesman, Orkney councillor Steven Heddle, said: “Local economic development drives so much of the other vital things that councils do on behalf of our communities.
“This was a message we promoted as part of our essential services campaign ahead of this year’s budget.”
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The member councils have been urged to think outside the box for what they can spend the money on.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said: “Having spent some time last year visiting a range of new businesses, refreshed businesses and other community schemes I would very much wish to see this funding support innovative ideas which can support our town centres.
“In so doing, this would not only support potential new businesses but also supporting existing shops and businesses by increasing footfall and visitors to town centres.”
And Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson added: “This is indeed a welcomed stimulus for Aberdeen and of course towns and city centres across the country, at a time when it is needed most.
“When deciding on spend, it is important that the local authorities are supported by all partners and I know that the business improvement districts the length and breadth of Scotland will look to play an active part.”