Today marks the start of Scotland Loves Local Week, a campaign championed by STV weatherman Sean Batty who urges shoppers to choose local and help forge stronger futures for communities

AS a child, Sean Batty spent many an hour visiting his local shops with his mum - and it’s an experience he’s keen to see is not lost for future generations.

The STV weatherman, who grew up in Paisley and still lives in his native Renfrewshire, witnessed some of the glory days of town centres, when they were the only places to shop.

Travelling across the country he’s seen the struggles that many have battled since as the face of the high streets changes.
But he’s optimistic that a renaissance is coming - and is championing a rallying cry for people to get behind businesses in their communities to make that possible.

Sean is an ambassador for Scotland Loves Local, the campaign urging people to lay the foundations of a better future for their community by simply choosing local.

The Herald:

It is a call which will be to the fore as part of Scotland Loves Local Week, which runs from August 28 to September 3.

Although shopping and the way we use our town centres is changing, he believes some of what he experienced as a youngster can still be part of the future as a new generation of shops and attractions emerges – if locals show their support.

He says: “Without people spending money locally these businesses are never going to survive. 

“I can remember being dragged around Paisley by my mum – usually on a rainy day – to go and have a look at the wool shop. We spent a lot of time at a little book fair in the Piazza, which wasn’t covered in those days. We went to all of the shops.

“Paisley was a thriving throng of activity, even back in the early 1990s. Then it took a real downturn. People would really complain about the High Street. 

“But it’s good to see that we now have boutique local businesses popping up, in Paisley and throughout Scotland. It’s great to see the likes of a woodcrafter open up a shop and someone who used to knit jumpers at home having a shop. It’s important because we don’t want high streets with lots of empty shops. It’s great to have people moving into them.

“What I love is that these small businesses are generally people who live next door to us – down the road – and it’s vital that we support them.”

The Herald:

Above, the trailblazers who are part of Restoration and Creation in Paisley show their support for the Scotland Loves Local campaign

Paisley itself is undergoing somewhat of a rejuvenation with tens of millions of pounds being spent on major regeneration projects.

It includes the transformation of the town’s museum – which tells the story of the world-famous Paisley Pattern and so much more – and a revamp of its Town Hall.

The mill building which stands as a symbol of its industrial past is now flats and a visitor attraction.

While, as in other places, some of the large department stores and national chains which had become part of the town centre are no longer there, Sean believes there’s plenty to be positive about.

He said: “If you go into Paisley right now, there are roads and pavements closed for good reasons – there are things happening everywhere you turn. 

“What I love is the fact that we’re going a bit more metro in Paisley, which isn’t something you might’ve expected to hear a few years ago.

“You go down side cobbled streets and they’re making the most of some hidden gems – buildings which had sat dilapidated and unused for years, but now they’ve been converted into a trendy café or an upcycling place. What fills me with pride about Paisley is the fact that the museum’s being turned around, a new learning hub’s being built, the Town Hall’s having a facelift, we’ve got Mod coming back this year and so much more. There’s a lot to be proud of.

“Yes, we’ve gone through a rough patch – I think most towns have – but we’re now starting to see a recovery.”

The Herald:

Sean with Leslie Lenaghen of The Lonely Broomstick, Falkirk. 


Underpinning that recovery, however, is the need for local support.
A recent survey of members and supporters of Scotland’s Towns Partnership - the organisation behind Scotland Loves Local – found that three-quarters of Scottish businesses said the support of local people is critical to their survival.

Filming for Scotland Loves Local, Sean recently visited some members of Paisley First with businesses sharing why the support of local people is so important.

With Love Flowers was one of them where Clemency Dowling, one of the team there, told him: “It’s crucial that local people come in and support us. This is our livelihood. Without them we wouldn’t be here.”

It’s a similar story Sean has heard in other places he has visited for Scotland Loves Local.

In Falkirk – a place where Sean also spent time as a child – he saw how a former opticians had been transformed into a wizardry-inspired gift shop and attraction which supports a vast network of creatives who supply it. 

The Herald: Sean Batty with some of the team at With Love Flowers

Sean at With Love Flowers in Paisley


Leslie Lenaghen, who runs The Lonely Broomstick with his mum Doris, said: “We believe in supporting other small businesses. We’ve poured everything we can into this shop. When you buy locally it supports individual people. When you buy from our shop, it doesn’t just support mum and I, it supports our staff and all of the small businesses we buy from. It goes a long way.”

At a farm on the shores of Loch Lomond which has diversified into operating boat tours and kayak hire, Sean also heard how visitor attractions rely on locals discovering more about what’s on their doorstep. 

And it’s that element of discovery which Sean believes is so important to the future of many. He added: “There’s always going to be a place for online shopping now.

“But, during lockdown – particularly when we were restricted to our local council areas – people started to find businesses they hadn’t realised were there. I now regularly visit a little farm shop that I’d never heard of before lockdown, but it had been there all of the time.

In the same way that we supported them then, we need to keep supporting them for the future.”

While born out of that first coronavirus lockdown and the immediate need to help communities recover from it, Scotland Loves Local has evolved into a campaign for long-term behaviour change in communities, supporting ongoing financial fightback from the pandemic, helping businesses through the cost of living crisis and supporting local responses to the climate emergency by reducing travel.

The Herald:

Supported by the Scottish Government, STP is working with people across the country to create town centres in which people live, work and visit.

Scotland Loves Local Week is shining a spotlight on some of the dedication and determination which will make communities across the country fit for the future – and how local support is the key to unlocking better, stronger, more sustainable places to live, work and visit.

People are being urged to share all that’s great about life in their area on social media, using the hashtags #ScotlandLovesLocal and #ChooseLocal 

Find out more about the campaign - and how to get involved - at