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South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the introduction of a new Scottish Government fund to help communities develop empty properties in their area.

The new Asset Mapping Funding Pots will give development trusts the chance to conduct surveys, work with stakeholders and consult with their communities on the best methods of rejuvenating their town centres.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil announced the £50,000 fund on a visit to Clackmannan whose development trust was established in direct response to issues faced in its historic town centre and across the wider community. He said:

“The Scottish Government is clear, our towns should be vibrant, attractive and safe places where local people and visitors want to spend their time and money.

“Understanding the nature of the assets in a local area – whether it’s buildings, artefacts or active community groups – is fundamental to revitalising town centres.

“This new funding will give development trusts opportunities to carry out fact finding exercises and to directly consult with their communities on how town centre activity can be prioritised to meet with their aspirations.

There are currently more than 226 development trusts operating across Scotland. Development trusts are owned and managed by the local community with the aim of regenerating or addressing specific economic, social, environmental or cultural issues in their area.

The funding will be administered by Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), the network for community-led regeneration in Scotland.

Ms McAlpine said:

 “There are over 20 development trusts established throughout the south west of Scotland.  Groups like the Langholm Initiative and Moffat CAN have played a vital role in encouraging economic growth in their local communities.

“These grants will allow development trusts to explore what further activities they want to become involved with in supporting high street regeneration . That might mean restoring empty buildings for community use, identifying new business opportunities or organising cultural events to boost tourism and encourage local people out onto the high street.  I would urge as many groups as possible to consider applying to the fund and expanding upon the good work they currently do. “