There’s no quick fix, regeneration manager warns
The man being tasked with heading up the regeneration of Galashiels has warned there will be no quick fix.
Douglas Watt, 53, has lived and worked in the town his whole life, having been employed for the last 33 of those at Sykes in Netherdale, latterly as client services director.
He has been named as the new manager for the 12-month pilot Galashiels community enterprise support project funded by the South of Scotland Economic Partnership.
Douglas said: “After spending the last 33 years working in the town, I am excited by the opportunity presented by the role, for both myself and the town.
“Everyone is aware of the challenges faced by high streets throughout the UK, and Galashiels is no different.
“I am happy to be involved with those who are taking a proactive approach to dealing with these challenges and look forward to making a positive difference, but there is no quick fix. We’re going to have to look at the longer term as well.”
Over the next year, Douglas will take a lead role in delivering the Build a Better Gala initiative, led by theEnergise Galashiels Trust, focusing on key regeneration activities.
He said: “The tapestry building could bring visitors to Galashiels, but we have to make it a much more welcoming place for them so they stay longer ... which is why we will be looking at Welcome Host training for staff in local businesses.”
Other themes being investigated are developing events and attractions – following the success of the recent Christmas Lights and Market event and the Gala Goes Extreme pilot, both of which resulted in over 5,000 people coming into the town centre.
Douglas will also head up the installation of street art and murals to create a welcoming environment, and help to promote the town’s newly developed brand identity, which also launched recently.
It is hoped that businesses, community groups and charities use the brand, becoming ambassadors for the town.
Debbie Paterson of Energise Galashiels Trust said: “The branding project was just as much about the journey as the result.
“We involved a diverse cross-section of the community to help pull together ideas, opinions and emotions. The key theme that came through was ‘heart’, which is embedded in the brand logo as well as the strapline.
“We hope that the people, community groups and businesses of Galashiels use the brand as a stamp of pride and positivity.”
Councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “It is fantastic that Galashiels has its community enterprise manager in post.
“The post is a 12-month pilot being supported by the SoSEP, and is one of four across the Borders with the others to be appointed in Eyemouth, Jedburgh and Hawick, which have all been identified as priority regeneration towns.
“The aim of these posts is to work with local communities to support new and developing projects which will have a positive economic impact.
“The new brand for Galashiels is another positive step forward which the council has supported as part of a range of regeneration projects – including the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre - which we expect will revitalise the town.”
Contact Douglas at [email protected] for further details, or to request the artwork of the new brand.