Labour MSP Hugh Henry will drop into town tomorrow (Thursday) as part of a campaign by a body known as Scotland’s Town Partnership that aims to connect Scottish MSPs with Scotland’s towns.

Mr Henry is looking forward to finding out more about the ripples of optimism that are being generated by efforts to boost the town centre economy.

His visit forms part of an ongoing initiative to create a Business Improvement District (BID) that could lead to a number of benefits for local firms and their customers, including the sort of Christmas celebration that hasn’t been seen in Barrhead for many years.

The efforts of the BID steering group, chaired by Paul Santi of the New Yorker, have already won praise from John F Hamilton, president of East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce who is convinced the project has great potential.

As we reported in last week’s News, the project has also inspired one group to add their own splash of colour to the town centre by creating colourful woollen wraps that have been placed around several trees in Main Street.

The so-called Barrhead Yarn Bombers claimed responsibility for the stunt that was warmly welcomed by shoppers and workers who were delighted to see the beautiful creations brighten up the area.

Now, Mr Henry is hoping to find out more about the plans when he meets with local business owners during a town centre tour.

He said: “I have seen how BID can bring so much to a town and the input of such an organisation can bring huge benefits to business and the community.

“Our neighbours in Paisley launched a BID group not so long ago and already it’s making a difference.

“I am, as always, looking forward to spending time in Barrhead, meeting with the people who run our businesses and many of the local residents who use their services.”

He added: “The on-going regeneration in the town has been a welcome boost for Barrhead with some amazing new amenities which are being put to good use.

“While I am aware of what is going on in Barrhead and the issues affecting local people, I am looking forward to joining the BID steering group and accompanying them on a series of visits to local businesses to speak to owners and customers face to face.

“Getting out and about in my constituency is one of the best parts of my job.”

The BID framework has been used to enhance town centres, tourism or business parks with successful examples bringing a range of improvements such as better safety and security measures, community events, marketing and loyalty schemes, all of which can drive footfall and attract more investment.

Project co-ordinator Laura Molloy, of Giffnock-based RPL Marketing, has been recruited by East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce to help establish the Barrhead BID, working in tandem with local business owners.

As part of the BID process, shopper and business surveys have been carried out with the intention of producing a business plan that will be presented to companies and organisation operating within Main Street and Cross Arthurlie Street.

If the majority of businesses back the proposals, a five-year strategy will be adopted in the same way that BIDs have been in operation in neighbouring Clarkston and Giffnock.

The business plan is financed by a levy on firms within the BID area, with the possibility of additional contributions coming from local and national government as well as other agencies.

The ultimate aim is to create a strong local partnership which sees the private sector collectively shaping the town centre economy for the benefit of all interested parties.

A vote on whether to take the BID forward will take place early next year.

And as part of the ongoing discussions, the steering group has outlined its hopes for a Christmas extravaganza in the town with a Santa parade and a Christmas market just two events being considered.

A new website has also been created, as well as a Twitter account and Facebook page which will keep everyone up to date with the project’s progress.

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SOURCE: Barrhead News

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