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Traffic Concerns Major Problem For Hamilton Town Centre
Parking charges and traffic concerns are among the major problems in Hamilton, according to the results of a public consultation on the town centre’s future.
MP Angela Crawley and MSP Christina McKelvie discussed the findings at a packed meeting. Almost 2000 responses were submitted to the survey set up by the two Hamilton politicians following an investigation, which revealed there are 45 vacant units in the town centre.
The responses came from business owners, residents, visitors and workers, but with the majority from residents. It was clear from the report that the majority of those who answered the question on the state of the town centre were “not at all satisfied”.
Many responses said parking fees were simply too expensive, while the report urged South Lanarkshire Council to look at opening Quarry Street up to traffic and said the one-way system was having a detrimental impact.
Ms McKelvie said: “While we accept the council is currently operating under tight financial constraints, we believe the cost is too high not to address concerns around parking. We believe parking provision should be in place to attract the right customers, rather than turn people away.”
The politicians outlined the results of their survey to a meeting in Hamilton Town House on Monday. And Ms Crawley added: “Evidence in the survey proves lack of access in Quarry Street is a barrier to increased trade in the town centre. We believe a public consultation should be initiated by South Lanarkshire Council, in order to further canvass local business and residents’ opinions on the proposed change.”
Monica Lennon, Central Scotland MSP and councillor for Hamilton North and East, was at the meeting. She said: “As a councillor representing the town centre, and a board member on Hamilton Business Improvement District (BID), I’ve been closely involved in a number of initiatives to improve the town centre, including the successful Ready Steady Gallop project and the campaign to retain our university.
“BID and South Lanarkshire Council have worked hard over the past few years to encourage investment, and I’m encouraged there is such widespread support for working collaboratively together to further improve the area.
“I look forward to engaging with people across the town who have brought forward ideas and will do all I can to champion Hamilton’s interests in the Scottish Parliament.”
The politicians now plan to “work with the Scottish Town’s Partnership to take forward the plan, look at the innovative ideas from the report and make them a reality”.
Ms McKelvie added: “Hamilton has proven itself to be eager for change, to be willing to get involved in the decision-making process and to have the ideas, that if materialised could make a real difference. We undoubtedly have challenges ahead, but with the efforts of our community, we can make our town centre something to be proud of.”
Michael McGlynn, Executive Director of Community and Enterprise Resources at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “We work closely with local businesses and always try to take into account the views of the public, so we welcome this report.
“It reinforces what we already know about the issues and challenges which are being faced by Hamilton town centre, and indeed by town centres across Scotland. The council has been working with partners to find solutions to these issues for some time.
“We work closely with Hamilton BID to co-ordinate activity and assist the business community. Recently this has included committing a substantial contribution of funding to bring free wifi to Hamilton town centre, as well as a range of marketing and event initiatives to help bring people into the town centre.
“An investment of over £250,000 has also been made to fit out retail units at Castle Street, and dedicated business support has been given to create innovative business incubation spaces, particularly aimed at young entrepreneurs.
“Through the Castle Street town centre incubation project, the council helped secure nearly £50,000 of grants, including European money, to support five new town centre companies. This has created or safeguarded 13.5 jobs. The team will continue to support new and existing businesses though grants, loans and advice.
“The council continues to look for other ways to support the town centre, and this includes all the areas raised in the report’s recommendations. However, these solutions cost money, so we look forward to further discussions with the MP and MSP on the next stages, and especially how they can help us seek the sort of government funding to progress such plans which we have, so far, had difficulty obtaining.”