SNP MSP for the South of Scotland, Dr Aileen McLeod highlighted the success of phase one of Stranraer’s town centre regeneration during a debate on regeneration in the Scottish Parliament last week.
Dr McLeod in particular highlighted the recent award by the Saltire Society for the art elements of the Castle Square project.
She said: “I was delighted to be able to highlight the work and the successful investment in Stranraer town centre which has taken place to date and its recent recognition by the Saltire Society, particularly for the contributions of two local artists, Matt Baker and David Ralston.
“As I said in the debate, in the context of the Scottish economy, the value of a successful Stranraer regeneration programme cannot be underestimated given the potential to position Stranraer not just as a major gateway to Scotland from Ireland but as a major gateway to Europe from Ireland.
“Delivering such a transformational change within the current economic and financial climate will be a challenge given the level of public and private sector investment required. Finding new and innovative ways to secure such investment is key.
“While Council capital borrowing capacity is one option to lever EU and other grant support, I believe there is a real opportunity for the Scottish Government to support rural regeneration through new public/private financial instruments such as tax increment financing.
“We also need to consider how asset backed financial vehicles such as JESSICA could be used in rural areas to help achieve the scale required for investment.
“The development of Stranraer both as a strategic, international gateway and as a destination in its own right is a long-term ambition. It is also an ambition I believe all parties share. I think there is so much more that we can do to achieve that aim if we are prepared to co-operate.”