Business leaders and politicians should start work now on a post-virus blueprint for Hamilton town centre and nearby retailers.
I want to bring together prominent figures from all parties to begin work with retailers, small businesses and civic groups.
Urgent talks could be vital in protecting jobs and aiding a local recovery. Experts and analysts have warned that many High Street chains will struggle to survive the pandemic, I believe a round table discussion could be organised virtually and would give Hamilton and South Lanarkshire an important head-start.
Like towns all over the country Hamilton was facing issues before Covid-19 struck. Clearly the current priority is in protecting our NHS and saving lives.But we have to also consider what the local business landscape will be when we emerge and how this will impact on people’s lives and our communities.
The Scottish Parliament has been using new tech to keep working through and I know many businesses have been doing the same. I think it would be hugely beneficial if politicians, council leaders, our local commerce and business leaders, as well as community representatives could start talking now.
Sectors like retail, hospitality, leisure and commercial property are going to face huge challenges in the months ahead and jobs have already been affected. It may be that at local level there are ways we can find to help and work together.Problems which existed before like empty sites, will have to be re-examined under the new circumstances but there may be different solutions.
I’ve already had positive talks with Hamilton BID, Hamilton Accies and the Federation of Small Business and they all agree there is an urgent need for action.
This is about bringing people together so that we can start to find local solutions for a changed world.