Gift card scheme gets unanimous backing

The gift cards will be able to be used throughout Argyll and Bute, wherever in the area they are initially collected.

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Argyll and Bute is set to participate in a gift card scheme for shopping locally in Scotland after councillors unanimously backed the idea.

The Scotland Loves Local scheme is the brainchild of Scotland’s Town Partnership, aimed to help local businesses recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And at a virtual meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee last Thursday, August 12, councillors agreed that the area should take part.

The initiative will be funded by the Scottish Government for its first year, with the council to review the possibility of any extension in 2022.

An official of the authority also confirmed that the gift cards will be able to be used throughout Argyll and Bute, wherever in the area they are initially collected.

After Fergus Murray, the council’s head of economic development, gave a brief outline of the scheme, council leader Robin Currie said: ‘In the last 18 months, there have been a lot more people shopping locally. Previously a lot of people had gone to Dumbarton or the Central Belt to shop, and now don’t do that.’

South Kintyre Liberal Democrat Councillor Rory Colville asked: “Given the size of Argyll and Bute, how local is local?

‘Can you use it anywhere in Argyll and Bute; for example, people could get it in Campbeltown and shoot up to Oban or Helensburgh and use it there?’

Mr Murray responded: ‘Yes – that is our geography, but the general feedback is that it is used locally. There have been no other examples of this initiative in Argyll and Bute apart from the Oban Pound.

‘That has been extremely successful locally and I really hope that would continue. What we would do through publicity for this is to say it is to be used as locally as possible.’

Helensburgh Central Conservative Councillor Gary Mulvaney also had a question, asking: ‘It is a good initiative but there is a question around publicity and marketing. It could be the greatest plan in the world, but also the best kept secret.

‘Whose responsibility is it to market this to retailers and businesses, and also to consumers?’

Mr Murray said: ‘There are going to be two prongs to it. It will be on TV and radio through multiple channels.

‘We have seen quite a lot of Shop Local material and they are having regular adverts on that, which will be launched in the autumn. They were hoping to have as many councils as possible signed up before then.

‘We will also back that up with our own locally-targeted campaign.’

Councillors unanimously agreed to the council taking part in the project.