Rachael Hamilton vows to help Hawick High Street bounce back
Newly re-elected MSP Rachael Hamilton has vowed to help reverse the decline of Hawick High Street, as the country exits the Covid pandemic.
Mrs Hamilton, who won the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire seat for the Scottish Conservatives earlier this month, met with local traders along the High Street this week, calling for greater support for the town centre following a trend of decline spanning several years.
She says she wants to drive up competition and support local businesses by allowing Scottish Borders Council to exempt the high street and town centres from paying any business rates.
With many closed shutters and ‘to let’ signs along the street, Mrs Hamilton also wants communities to have the ‘first right to buy’ when local businesses are facing closing their doors.
And in a bid to increase footfall in the town centre itself, she believes that it is vital to relax planning laws to allow for the re-development of long-term unoccupied business properties into good quality housing for young families.
She says accessing the UK Government’s £4.8billion ‘Levelling Up’ fund is a key priority.
She told us: “This has been a tough year for town centre businesses with the Covid restrictions, and I want to see Hawick High Street thriving again.
“We know that it has been struggling for many years with the loss of banks and other retailers, but we cannot let this trend continue.
“Under the SNP, every year we see more and more local businesses shutting up shop for good on our high streets.
“Local businesses have worked extremely hard to make their premises Covid-secure, now we need to see the SNP Government in Edinburgh step up to the mark and provide Hawick with more funding to reverse the decline.
“We must look at all the options on the table to ensure we find a viable solution for Hawick.
“From the UK Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ fund [set up to support town centre and high street regeneration] to relaxing business rates on the high street, no stone must be unturned.
“I will be working hard in the coming weeks to establish what additional funding we can secure to improve the fortunes of Hawick town centre”.