Plea for urgency over £20m Dumfries investment plans

It is hoped the first phase of the funding can be delivered next year

A council has been urged to "keep the foot on the throttle" to ensure it draws down £20m to help regenerate an "overlooked" town centre.

Dumfries is one of seven Scottish towns in line for the levelling up funding.

However, the local authority in the area is still seeking further clarity on how the UK government support will be delivered and where it can be spent.

A meeting of its economy and resources committee agreed to do all it could to help speed up the process.

It is hoped the first round of the 10-year funding package will be available by summer 2024.

That would mean some kind of "town board" to administer its distribution would have to be put in place early next year.

Dumfries and Galloway Council (DGC) officers said they had already been in talks with the UK government to clarify the details of the scheme.

The funding is aimed at helping regeneration in the towns involved

SNP councillor Stephen Thomson said that, while he welcomed the funding, more detail was urgently required.

"It is a game-changer but nobody knows the rules of the game," he said. "We don't even know what the size of the pitch is.

"There are a whole lot of unknowns here.

"We do welcome the investment but we should really have a clearer sense of how we shape that."

The committee heard concerns about the tight timescale for delivery and also about a lack of certainty over what parts of the town could be eligible to receive funding.

Conservative councillor Ivor Hyslop said the investment was "good news" and suggested the local authority should do its best to shape any investment guidance to suit itself.

"If we give them the rules that we want, they might take them and run with them," he said.

"There is a lot of money coming into the region - we need to make sure that it does get used and we do draw it down.

"We have got to keep the foot on the throttle here to make sure that the money does come to Dumfries and Galloway and we use it well."

It is now hoped a further report on the funding can be brought back in January to take the process forward.

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