Having left Dumfries and Galloway many years ago, it is always refreshing to catch up with the current affairs via your excellent newspaper.
The current debate over the proposed building of a supermarket on the outskirts of Newton Stewart both intrigues me and gives me strong feelings of deja vu. This scenario unfolded a few years ago in Castle Douglas, and look at the place now. It is a thriving town if ever there was one.
Newton Stewart sits next to the main route through Dumfries and Galloway. The people using this main artery won’t stop unless there’s a good reason to stop.
Castle Douglas has its food town status, Wigtown is a book town. Newton Stewart has no effective branding. I seem to recall an attempt at rebranding a few years ago. The movers and shakers of the town could only come up with something like “Newton Stewart, gateway to the hills”. Yes, it is the gateway to the hills if you already live in the area, but from a tourist’s point of view, arriving at Newton you’re actually exiting the hills.
They must start thinking “outside of the box” to come up with some better selling points for the town. It could be a major mountain biking attraction, for example. Hub of Galloway perhaps? In the meantime, a new supermarket will help greatly. If this gives tourists a reason to stop, then there’s every chance these people will have a look round the town. Everybody wins.
The new employees who may have previously been unemployed will have money to spend locally. Hopefully, local small businesses and the “no” campaigners will eventually see the big picture. It’s called progress and it can only be good for this lovely, under-promoted town.
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