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Business Group Seeks Town Manager

A BUSINESS group wants to employ a town centre manager for Stranraer to oversee regeneration.

The idea was raised at the launch of Stranraer Business Group at the North West Castle Hotel.

Chairman Sam Scobie said a full-time manager was now needed to attract large-scale events to the town, boost the town’s profile among investors and influence and co-ordinate future development.

He said: “Most people sitting around here run a business on a day-to-day basis and we know how much time that takes up.

“We want a town centre manager. Someone who has the capability to lend a whole aspect of tourism and business and bring those together.”

The business group was set up in response to the future move of Stena Line to Cairnryan and the proposed waterfront development.

The group’s prime objective is to promote Stranraer as a business and commercial centre while influencing the development of Stranraer and the Lochryan basin as a marine and leisure destination.

But it will also deal with issues like street cleanliness, anti-social behaviour and the increasing problem of empty boarded-up shops.

Mr Scobie said: “We felt that there was no impetus to carry development forward and we thought we needed a group to do this.

“The waterfront project was the catalyst for us in Stranraer to do something.

“And there is a feeling in the business community that we have no influence over what is happening.

“We need to influence developments to make sure things are going to happen for the good of the town.”

He continued: “There should not be a situation where the town centre moves to the waterfront.

“We might not be on the decision-making body that oversees the waterfront, but we will have some influence.”

Mr Scobie also added that Stranraer had to reinvent itself and change its ferry port image if it was to attract inward investment in the waterfront.

Local business consultant John Fenwick said tourism strategy was vital to stop Stranraer’s economy declining further.

He said: “Looking around we have dwindling industries and, realistically, the only growth area is tourism and that is one that can bring great wealth.

“We need big ticket events and we must embrace visitors and make it an attractive place to visit.”

He added: “We can’t go to organisers and say we have acres of land and acres of water; we have to think on what visitors can do in the evening.”

The organisation, which has 25 members, will be a guaranteed limited business with each member holding shares in the business.

Mr Scobie said the group hoped to work together with the revived Stranraer Chamber of Commerce.

He said: “There will be areas where we have the same objectives and we are willing to work together.”

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