Calls for Galashiels action plan

Galashiels needs an action plan if it is to maximise and benefit from the economic, tourism and cultural potential of the Borders Railway.

That is the view of retired businessman Mike Gray, who addressed an audience in the Volunteer Hall last week.

Around 130 people attended the meeting, organised by Councillor Bill White in a bid to mobilise a range of business and social interests to bring about improvements before the trains return next year.

Mr White stressed the challenges facing a town centre, which is currently blighted by more than 30 empty retail premises and a dearth of events and attractions which rail visitors are entitled to expect.

And while Mr White acknowledged recent civic improvements, he told the audience: “Scottish Borders Council can only do so much – if we are to succeed in regenerating the town, it will also be down to you.”

In an impassioned presentation, Mr Gray said: “We need a vision of what our community wants Gala to be and that is a seriously big question that needs debate and discussion, and we need to think about what may be required to fuse and focus the enthusiasm that already exists here into a 
winning team.

“To do so, we need a plan ... a plan is essential if funding is to be attracted from government agencies and other bodies and if we are to lever in experts with legal, accounting, marketing and technical skills.”

Attendees were asked to outline their areas of expertise and willingness to become involved in a new group which will identify improvements and liaise with the Galashiels town centre co-ordinator who will begin work in mid-December.