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Housing Partnership Can Deliver Says Watchdog

A HOUSING watchdog says it is "confident" Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership can deliver a multi-million pound neigbourhood renewal project in Stranraer on time.

An emergency meeting was held on Monday between the council and watchdog Communities Scotland to discuss the regeneration of Stranraer's Dick's Hill.

The social landlord has been criticised by the committee for making slow progress on the Ailsa Gate site, which is supposed to be ready for tenants moving in before June.

Wigtown Neighbourhood Renewal committee chairman Willlie Scobie has repeatedly hit out at DGHP - claiming it was not up to the job.

Communities Scotland said DGHP needed to improve communication with the council and to update it on progress or any problems.

But it said it was confident that DGHP was able to deliver the project on time.

A spokesperson for watchdog said: "DGHP has in place appropriate project management measures and we are confident that they are on track to complete the programme.

"As with all projects of this nature both Communities Scotland and the council continue to monitor progress."

The watchdog oversees development on behalf of the Scottish Government and has the power to take the 8 million five-year housing project off DGHP if it is not up to scratch.

DGHP spokesman Mick Higgins said: "We welcome the fact that Communities Scotland has stated their confidence in our ability to deliver the programme.

"In terms of improving, we accept we need to improve communication with our partners in the council, with our tenants and the general public."

But Mr Scobie said the regeneration committee would be keeping a "watchful eye" on DGHP to make sure it was keeping to agreed times.

He said: "They have so far failed the community and we will be keeping a watching brief on DGHP to make sure they stick to the masterplan."

But he warned: "If in six months time there is further slippage this will put a sharper focus on how the developer is performing - DGHP must be accountable."

Committe member Councillor Iain Dick said after the meeting he was concerned the relationship between the council and DGHP was at a low ebb.

He said: "I hope communications between the council and DGHP improve, and that we develop a good working relationship.

"From a practical point of view this will have to be achieved."

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