Gala’s new co-ordinator is ‘excited’ at revitalisation role

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The professional charged with ensuring Galashiels fully exploits the opportunities presented by the railway met with the town’s business leaders this week.

Steve Revell has been appointed by Scottish Borders Council to the two-year post of town centre co-ordinator, and will be based within the economic development department at Newtown.

Mr Revell was at the Burgh Chambers in Galashiels on Monday evening to discuss his role with Energise Galashiels, the business and community pressure group set up in September – a year before the first trains start running.

And his job description matches many of the aspirations of that ad hoc voluntary organisation: to revitalise a town centre blighted by empty shops, to market the town to visitors and new businesses, to promote events and to explore the possibility of Galashiels becoming a Business Improvement District.

According to SBC, Mr Revell has worked in local government for 20 years in the field of regeneration and economic development, including in rural areas in Northumberland and Cumbria.

He has also had experience of maximising the potential of the Robin Hood rail link for communities in Nottinghamshire.

“I’m excited to take on this post at an important time for Galashiels,” said Mr Revell.

“Local businesspeople and residents have taken the initiative and created their own group to look at town centre improvements and I look forward to working with them, and others, to deliver their vision.

“I will also be working with the council’s economic development team and hope that by working in partnership, the council and the community can make a real difference to Galashiels town centre.”

Meanwhile, Energise Galashiels chairman, Councillor Bill White, (Galashiels & District) has announced the appointment of a themed leadership team.

These leaders include Salmon Inn publican Helen Calder (volunteer resources), architect Dave Armtrong (improving the look of the town centre), ex-SBC planning officer Johnny Gray (events) and retired businessman Mike Gray who will spearhead a long-term masterplan for the town.

Councillor White revealed that talks had already taken place between the group and the owner of the Douglas Bridge retail development, a key pedestrian gateway from the new transport interchange which has several empty units.

Energise Galashiels will also include input from the community council and the joint public/SBC road improvement group.