Closures put Berwickshire town centres under threat

Coldstream Police Station.
Coldstream Police Station.

The loss of services such as bank branches and Sheriff Courts is putting Berwickshire town centres at risk according to a recent survey.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) highlighted 11 town centres in the Borders which are under threat due to local closures.

They looked at towns that have recently seen the closures of services such as bank branches - in particular by RBS and Clydesdale Bank - Sheriff Courts, Crown Post Offices and Police Counters.

The FSB warned that these closures pose a threat to efforts to turn around high streets’ fortunes and rejuvenate local economies.

With Borders towns such as Greenlaw, Coldstream, and Duns on the list, local MSP John Lamont has urged the Scottish Government to take heed of the warning, and start to provide more financial help.

Colin Borland, the FSB’s head of external affairs in Scotland said: “After the disappearance of many big names such as Woolworths, we know that the future of our high streets can’t rely exclusively on retail. We need to make locating in small towns and high streets more attractive and affordable for large and small, public and private bodies alike.

“We recognise that many of these towns are looking at new ways to reinvigorate their local economies and drive footfall into their centres and schemes like the Small Business Bonus continue to give local traders a real boost. However, the public servants tasked with turning our high streets around are being undermined by their colleagues in other bodies looking to rationalise their estate. Similarly, banks will not improve relations with small businesses by closing branches.

MSP John Lamont said: “Many towns in the Borders have been hit with the closure of important local services in recent months, and this has undoubtedly had a negative impact on their local economies. Whether it’s the closure of a local bank branch, or the SNP’s closure of Police Counters and Sheriff Courts, they have all restricted the number of jobs and visitors in our town centres.

“When we should be trying to do everything we can to rejuvenate our high streets, these closures are counteracting a lot of the good work that has been achieved. It is no wonder that the FSB have chosen to voice their concerns as well, as many of the small businesses they represent will be under increased danger of closing if something is not done to boost these local economies.”