Smiths of Lerwick shop owner Laurence Smith was re-elected chairman of Lerwick Town Centre Association at the annual general meeting of the organisation.
At a well-attended meeting last week Harry Jamieson of Harry’s Department Store was elected vice-chairman.
New members are Sheila Johnson from Crystal Clear Holistic, Christina Irvine from CU Marketing and Lewis Moncrieff and Andrew Simpson from George Robertson (Shetland) Ltd, bringing the committee up to full strength at 12.
After a well-supported membership in 2008 Mr Smith expressed his wish to see all the businesses in the town centre on board for 2009 to support the effort to maintain and improve the area. That would be particularly important in the development of the Business Improvement District (BID) from which the association received a grant of £20,000 from the Scottish Government to develop.
The association is currently awaiting formal confirmation of support from the SIC which will have a key role to play in the development and operation of the BID. In the meantime the steering group are developing a programme to deliver the BID while also developing the questionnaire. This will be used to establish what the business community perceive as being the problems of the area and will also seek their ideas and suggestions on area improvements.
The BID ultimately depends on a gathering of essential information, the development of a business plan with a proposed levy and, ultimately, the opportunity for the businesses to vote on the plan. In 2008 the association contributed to the developing Lerwick Waterfront Strategy where again it was found necessary to emphasise the importance of the historic town centre and how it was important to maintain the town centre’s centrality in all developments.
The displays for the floral basket scheme for 2009 will again be produced by Angus Nicol of Frakkafield with the watering service this year from Island Gardening Services. This partnership scheme between the SIC, Lerwick Community Council and the association, and the bunting/welcome banners scheme, are designed to add colour to the town centre over the summer. The association also hopes to be in discussions shortly with the SIC on the proposed introduction of a “ceiling of light” at Christmas.
The main points that were raised included: encouraging all businesses to paint up their properties; concerns over the continual replacement of loose flagstones by tar; the subsidisation by the SIC and the trusts of cafes, restaurants and drinking facilities in direct competition to local businesses; and looking forward to the Hamefarin in 2010 and Tall Ships in 2011.
Mr Smith thanked all those in attendance, in particular the businesses in the town centre who continued to support the work of the association.