John McMillan: East Lothian leading the way in revitalisation of town centres

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The publication this week of the independent report National Review of Town Centres has resonance in East Lothian.

The report with its vision of “live, work and play of Scotland’s town centres enlivened by a new sense of community and enterprise” complements some of the work currently underway in East Lothian to revitalise our town centres.

Earlier this year the Haddington Community Development Trust was established which will spearhead the regeneration of Haddington town centre.

This group has emerged from local recognition that something was required to be done to stimulate the town centre.

Residents, businesses, schools, community groups and other interested organisations contributed to their vision of Haddington and the trust is now seeking ways of bringing the vision into being.

Our largest town, Musselburgh will be the beneficiary of regeneration funding and consultation is currently underway on the draft Town Centre Strategy for Musselburgh.

Town centres play a key part in the county, whether for retail, residential, business or recreational use.

And the importance of their revitalisation is reflected in the East Lothian Economic Development Strategy 2012-2022 and our council plan.

As a council we have set ourselves the aim to improve the quality of life for local people leading, over the next five years, to a prosperous, safe and sustainable East Lothian, which can offer a dynamic and thriving economy.

Our plan has four key objectives – to increase economic growth; to provide communities with the housing, transport, community facilities and environment that will allow them to flourish; to give children the best start in life and protect vulnerable and older people, and to transform the way the council works to deliver excellent services.

The revitalisation of our town centres is at the heart of these aims.

Whilst East Lothian Council is a major driver of the regeneration plans we recognise that partnership, both now and for the future, is the key to any stimulus and the involvement of the local business community, community groups, voluntary sector and schools is vital to breathe new life into our town centres.

Councillor John McMillan is economic development and tourism spokesman at East Lothian Council