A hotel is key to business

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ARBROATH needs a good quality hotel if it is to attract new business, according to a town planning expert.

Cliff Hague, chairman of the Built Environment Forum for Scotland (BEFS), visited the town on Thursday to carry out a ‘Small Towns Health Check’ which forms part of the organisation’s 2012 congress.

Along with his colleague, Gemma Learmonth they toured the town looking at its strengths and weaknesses before meeting with local councillors and members of the local planning team and town centre regeneration group.

And the lack of a large hotel is one of the big factors that they feel could be holding the town back.

Mr Hague said: “As well as trying to be a destination for visitors, there seems to be a lot of business people but unfortunately there is a shortage of a good quality hotel.

“Local engineering firms tell us they are using accommodation outside of Arbroath and a big conglomerate could help bring people back.

“Business will only bring people to the town if there is somewhere to put them up.

“Then this would have a knock on effect on cafes, restaurants and bars.”

The site of the former Hotel Seaforth has stood empty since 2007 when a major fire destroyed the property.

There have been numerous rumours about a hotel chain taking on the location but the site remains up for sale.

However, Mr Hague did find many positive points about the town, especially the marina which he described as a success story.

He added: “We were both impressed by the harbour and the marina, which is a response to the changing business down there.

“And the historical significance of the town both nationally and internationally with the abbey and Declaration of Arbroath is a massive strength.

“But there needs to be more marketing of this and the town needs to create a clear brand and give itself a visible web presence.”

The BEFS were set to visit Dumfries and another small town before the annual congress takes place at Linlithgow Burgh Halls on Tuesday (November 20).

The hope is ideas on how small Scottish towns can thrive and survive can be shared and discussed on how best to face economic and social challenges.

l What do you think? Does Arbroath desperately need a new hotel? How can the town market itself better to tourists and visitors? Get in touch on the Arbroath Herald Facebook page or tweet us @Arbroath_Herald. You can also email arbroath.herald@jnscotland.co.uk.