Speaking during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Dumfries bid for city status last week, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth told MSPs whether the bid is successful or not, it must not be the end of the debate on the future of Dumfries.
The local MSP said far too many of the town’s young people leave the area because of the lack of high skilled, high wage jobs and more needed to be done to give them more opportunities and to regenerate the town centre.
The local MSP shared his pride in being the only MSP born in Dumfries and who has always lived in the town.
Speaking during the debate he said, “Dumfries is my home—it is where I was born, where I have always lived and where I bring up my family. Frankly, I would not have it any other way. It is a town with a proud and rich history.
“I do not know whether the city status bid will be successful. As we have heard, some people might ask whether it is worth it, as it does not come with any extra funding. We are a very proud town, but I know that the research suggests that achieving city status can provide an economic boost and put a place on the map, and Dumfries has as good a case as anywhere to be a city.
“So I want thank those behind the bid—Mark Jardine, the council and the community groups. Whatever the outcome, I hope that this process of discussing how to make Dumfries even better keeps going after the bid, irrespective of whether we win it.
“Too many of our young people still leave their area for the high-skill, high-wage employment opportunities that are not always available doonhame. That is why I stood for Parliament five years ago. We had lost big manufacturing bases such as ICI, Nestlé and Uniroyal, and I wanted to fight for better opportunities for our young people in what can often be a forgotten part of Scotland.
“It is also why I campaigned for a decade as a councillor, representing the Dumfries town centre ward of Nith, for a south of Scotland enterprise agency, which is now up and running, and why I was part of the early days of the Borderlands initiative, which has now developed into the Borderlands inclusive growth deal.
“Much more still needs to be done. Whether we win or lose the city status bid, this cannot be the end of the debate on the future of Dumfries. Those who live there and have a genuine stake in our town’s future want to see action and more opportunities for young people, and improvements to our town centre. Ensuring that we deliver that action must be the legacy of this bid”.