Speech by Tracey Little, Provost of Dumfries and Nithsdale – delivered at the Midsteeple Quarter Launch on Saturday 7th April 2018:
Fellow Doonhamers – I am extremely honoured to undertake the role of Provost and so proud to be an ambassador for my home town of Dumfries. It is my hope that I can use my role to persuade more people of Dumfries and visitors to see the great worth of our town and love it as much as I do. I want to play my part in ensuring that Dumfries is a great place for everyone – vibrant, safe and economically thriving.
You can love them, loathe them or try to ignore them. But it is impossible not to have a view on the state of our town centres and High Streets. In many ways they are a microcosm of modern society. They reflect both what is good and what is troubling about our economy, our social differences and divisions and the way we construct our identity.
Today’s angst might feel like a very 21st Century reaction to change, but it isn’t. For nearly half a century Britain’s High Streets have been a source of worry and concern. The passing of the personal and local character of the shops to make way for the chain stores, made huge changes to our High Streets. Since then, many town centres, ours included, have suffered due to the increasing popularity of out-of-town shopping centres and also online stores.
Town centres have changed. They no longer resemble the towns of yesteryear. But they can and must have a future. The real changes we need involve rethinking how space is used, who has access to it, who owns it and where the economic, social and environmental benefits flow. There is an urgent need to radically re-imagine our town centres as multifunctional social centres.
I am a Doonhamer through and through, born and raised in Dumfries. I have witnessed the many changes over the decades and my view is that we need to rediscover the civic and social role of urban spaces, creating places that are freely available to all and where access doesn’t favour the well-off.
Our town has a lot to be proud of and some amazing talented, creative and inspiring communities, groups and individuals…you guys!!
It’s my great pleasure and honour to kick off the public launch of the Community Benefit Society for the Midsteeple Quarter project. A day of fun, music and solidarity in support of a new beginning for our town centre.
Everything will be happening on the streets here around the Midsteeple and The Stove. There will be music, speeches, entertainers, Midsteeple Merchandise and everyone is encouraged to sign up to join the Midsteeple Quarter Society. Membership is free and, as a member, you will have a say in owning and directing this very special project for the future of our wonderful town.
Today is also the first outing for the Doon Toon Army….the community movement to support Midsteeple Quarter and bring about change by making practical improvements in the town centre. This is exactly what the Midsteeple Quarter project aims to achieve…with your help and support. ALL our help and support.
So please stick around for a while. Enjoy the entertainment, ask questions…and join up to be a part of the new life being breathed into our town!