The Council’s Policy and Resources Committee (18 March 2014) gave its unanimous backing to the Administration’s proposals, which will see significant investment in a range of capital projects over future years.
Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said, “I’m delighted that there was unanimous support from all political groups for our exciting investment proposals, which will benefit communities the length and breadth of Dumfries and Galloway. From new schools and new sports facilities to increased investment in fixing our roads and delivering on regeneration projects, these plans show a real commitment by our Council to transforming facilities within our local communities.”
The proposals re-affirm previous commitments to deliver next generation Broadband and the Dalbeattie Learning Campus.
The Committee also agreed indicative funding for the Dumfries Learning Town project, paving the way for a £11 million Learning Hub; a new £21 million northwest Dumfries School cluster, which will include a new build Maxwelltown High school and associated primary schools on the same site; and a £15.5 million refurbishment of St Joseph’s college; all with a target of being completed during the financial year 2017/18.
Work will also be carried out to develop detailed plans for the more complex northeast cluster, which will include a new build Dumfries High School and the refurbishment of Dumfries Academy. Major investment will also continue in other schools in the region such as Langholm primary school, Dunscore primary school, Kirkcudbright Academy, Annan Academy, and Sanquhar Academy.
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said, “Our new administration said that we were determined to deliver the ambitious plans for Dumfries Learning Town and, by setting out the funding for the first phases, we have taken a massive step towards making that a reality. Our aim is to deliver the first phases involving a new Learning Hub, a new Maxwelltown High School and associated primary schools and a refurbished St Joseph’s College over the next four years. However, during that period we will also work up the detailed plans for the more difficult schemes that will take longer due to the complexities of the sites, including a new Dumfries High School at the existing location and a refurbished Dumfries Academy. Taken together, these plans will totally change the face of education in our regional capital for a generation.
“However, it isn’t just Dumfries that will see major benefits. There will be significant continued investment in schools across Dumfries and Galloway including the completion of the new primary school in Langholm and the new Learning Campus in Dalbeattie.”
Proposals were also agreed to invest over £1 million in the Kirkcudbright Charter project and to set aside £2.5 million towards the proposed £12 million Whitesands Flood protection scheme, which is currently the subject of a funding bid to the Scottish Government for the remaining funds. Councilors also agreed that detailed proposals be drawn up for a Newton Stewart flood prevention scheme for future years.
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said, “When our new administration was established last year, I said that one of our priorities would be to help deliver the Kirkcudbright Charter. By allocating more than £1 million from the Council to the Charter projects, including the art gallery, we are delivering on that commitment. The proposed art gallery will allow our Council's important fine and decorative art collections to be better cared for and managed, more readily accessed, and better interpreted and enjoyed.”
Additional investment was agreed for the region’s infrastructure, including major investment in local road improvements. More than £13 million has been agreed from the Council’s 2014/2015 capital budget to cover a range of projects, including road resurfacing, core paths, and providing vehicles for the new kerbside waste collection service due to be introduced this year. The additional capital is over £3.5 million more than the budget agreed in October 2012, which emphasises the importance of improving the region’s roads. This is in addition to approximately £6m a year on road repairs from the council’s revenue budget.
It was also agreed to support a range of land based projects over the next year, including a new 3G pitch in Lockerbie and increased investment in play parks and playing fields.
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said, “Lockerbie was the next community in line for the development of a 3G pitch and it was deeply disappointing when the plans didn’t receive match funding. However, we were absolutely determined to ensure that the community didn’t lose out and we have worked hard to identify the extra Council funding needed to ensure a new pitch will go ahead in Lockerbie.”
More than £2.2 million of funding for Economic Development projects for the year ahead was also agreed, including £1.5 million for regeneration in Stranraer.
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said, “We have set aside over £2 million for the next year to support economic development projects, including more than £1.5 million for the regeneration of Stranraer. However, beyond these projects, the next crucial next stage will be the regeneration of the East Pier and the wider waterfront. That will require additional support from organisations such as Scottish Enterprise and the Crown Estates and, most importantly, the private sector. If, however, additional Council funding is required towards the East Pier, this administration stands ready to make that available in the future.”
Councillor Nicholson added, “We’ve proposed indicative funding of £4 million of funding for the following two years for regeneration proposals across Dumfries and Galloway and the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee will consider detailed proposals on how that money will be allocated to support our region wide regeneration plans.”