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Scotland Loves Local Week: Scottish Government minister praises improvement districts

Joe FitzPatrick, the Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Planning, praised the work of improvement districts as he celebrated Scotland Loves Local Week.

Speaking after he met members of One Linlithgow to launch the week – alongside Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur – Mr FitzPatrick spoke of the important role it and organisations like it have in helping ensure communities across the country can flourish and thrive.

He had just heard about some of the work being done by One Linlithgow and its members to attract more people to shop in and visit the West Lothian town.

Watch Joe FitzPatrick talk about Scotland Loves Local Week and the work of improvement districts

Mr FitzPatrick said: “BIDs are a real opportunity for businesses to put their collective power together to deliver something special for their area – to make sure they are keeping people in that area.

“If someone comes into Linlithgow – or another BID area – they can look at the range of facilities available. That way folk will stay, spend more money, sustain jobs and make sure that our town centres are vibrant and successful for the future.”

During their visit to Linlithgow on Monday (August 28), the ministers met some businesses and leaders of One Linlithgow in the town centre before walking up to Linlithgow Canal Centre.

There, they were briefed by Mike Smith, who is one of the leading lights at the centre, as well as being a BID board member.

Joe FitzPatrick, left, chatting with STP’s Kimberley Guthrie and One Linlithgow Deputy Chair Mark Darragh

Mr FitzPatrick added: “When you think local, whether you’re shopping or visiting, you’re not just doing your bit for the environment – keeping your carbon footprint down – you’re helping your neighbours, helping secure the jobs of your family and friends. It’s so important.”

Scotland Loves Local Week, which runs until September 3, is highlighting that importance – demonstrating the difference that choosing local can makes.

Improvement districts across the country are at the forefront of championing that message and have been hosting visits from MSPs, MPs and working with local authorities as part of a collective rallying cry.

Speaking after chatting to the ministers, Mr Smith said: “The thing about choosing local is that if you don’t keep the locality alive, you lose part of your own identity. This is a community. I can do almost everything I can imagine I’d like to do in this community. Not just commerce, the social aspects of this town are very much built around it being Linlithgow. It’s great.”

Scotland Loves Local is led by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, which is also the parent body of Scotland’s Improvement Districts.

Mike Smith, right, briefing, from left, Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur, Tony I’Anson of One Linlithgow and Local Government Minister Joe FitzPatrick

You can find out more on setting up an improvement district in your community by clicking here.

Learn all about Scotland Loves Local at www.lovelocal.scot

Read more: One Linlithgow members help launch Scotland Loves Local Week