Question Time — Scottish Executive — Health and Well-being – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 7th June 2007.
I congratulate the ministerial team.
To ask the Scottish Executive how it will support the regeneration of town centres in the Dumfries constituency. (S3O-146)
The central priority of the Government is to support Scotland's economic growth. We have made it clear that one of the ways in which we will do that is by removing or reducing the burden of business rates for small businesses, many of which are located in traditional town centres throughout Scotland. We will announce further measures in due course.
I recognise that the small business rates relief scheme has helped many small businesses—that is one of the reasons why the Labour Party proposed its extension in its election manifesto. Nevertheless, does the minister acknowledge that the extension of the scheme will not tackle the problem of the derelict buildings that blight many town centres, including that of Dumfries? Will the Executive consider proposals to enable local communities and businesses to work together to improve the physical environment of town and village centres?
We will consider any proposals with an open mind. The issue is important not just in Dumfries but throughout the country, as many small towns are struggling to survive in the current economic climate. As the member knows, business improvement district projects have gone ahead in some areas. We will examine those in the future and consider whether they are the best way in which to make progress. Also, the small business scheme that we are introducing will have a positive impact on small towns. The member will be aware of the local regeneration projects that are going on in Dumfries, particularly in relation to the work of Dumfries and Galloway Council.