Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Tuesday, 26 October 2010 12:31 UK

New look for Cumbernauld

The North Lanarkshire town of Cumbernauld hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in 2001, when it was awarded the "Carbuncle Award" for the worst designed town in Britain.

But the local council is determined to change public perceptions, with the recent unveiling of a 33ft steel statue and a distinctive "neon wave" sculpture designed to show the town in a more positive light.

School Reporters from Greenfaulds High School looked into the issue as part of the BBC's First Click project.

By Cameron & Ainsley

North Lanarkshire council have done it again, claiming 15 medals and three discretionary awards in the Beautiful Scotland Competition with Cumbernauld's new resident Arria.

Sculpture being lifted into place
The final piece of the Arria sculpture is put into place

Thirty-three feet of galvanized steel was delivered on 24 August 2010 to Cumbernauld. The £250,000 statue was created by world famous artist Andy Scott.

The statue is named after Arria Fadilla the mother of the Roman emperor Antonius who created the Antonine Wall running through Cumbernauld and Kilsyth. Arria was selected from a competition for the name of the sculpture.

Arria incorporates two large sweeping arcs at her back inspired by the original Gaelic translation of Cumbernauld "comor nan allt" which means "the coming together of the waters".

This theme of water is continued in the Positive Image Project. As well as Arria, North Lanarkshire Council have introduced another piece of art called "The Neon Waves" which are designed to make you feel like you are a riding on a wave for a calm emotion.

Even though these pieces of artwork have increased the popularity of Cumbernauld, there have been many complaints of how the £1.2m could have been spent on something more useful like school buildings and transportations, town centre and local services and that these sculptures are situated in the wrong areas.

'Magnet' for vandalism

Many believe that drivers' attention on the A80 could be distracted by the massive shining statue at the side of the road and people also think the site could have been decorated simply with wild flowers.

Even with their expensive pricing there would be an ongoing cost for maintenance and cleaning, and all of these downsides apply to both sculptures.

We interviewed two residents of Cumbernauld to find out what they personally thought about the new sculptures and they simply described them as "a waste of money".

Many agree, especially with the state of the old town centre which received the Carbuncle Award in both 2001 and 2005 because of its dreadful appearance. Another issue brought up was the possible rise of anti-social behaviour as these new artworks would act as a "magnet" to vandalism.

Even with the advantages of the Positive Image Project, there are many problems and issues to be concluded. We can only hope that future plans, for instance a new bus station, can only have a positive impact on Cumbernauld.

By Rachael, Megan and Morven

Cumbernauld was built in 1956 and since then some say it has crumbled. Cumbernauld was awarded the Carbuncle award in November 2001 and the locals are unhappy about their town being labelled the worst in Scotland.

In a bid to recover Cumbernauld's youthful glow, the council have forked out nearly £1m for what some describe as the "hideous" neon waves situated on the slops of the central way road.

Cumbernauld, pictured in 1970
The design of Cumbernauld has come in for strong criticism

Exactly £963,000 was spent on this project. The reason for the neon waves was that the council saw it as too dangerous to maintain shrubs. There are 76 neon waves altogether. Their lights are due to be turned on next month, with a council spokeswomen describing them as an "affordable solution".

The 33ft Arria, 'Angel of the Nauld' is another project to improve Cumbernauld's image to commuters passing through the area. The statue is situated in a field overlooking the A80.

Some people see the statue as pretty but also a waste of money. The world-renowned artist Andy Scott designed the £250,000 statue. The statue may boost the image of Cumbernauld, as the road needed something to brighten it up.

The waves and the statue are based around the Gaelic meaning of Cumbernauld, Coming together of the waters.

Lawrie Sheach said "I don't mind the statue but the waves are just appalling. The council have used our money to fund this project that we were not really given enough information about."

By Ewan, Eilidh and Fraser

The massive steel structure was delivered to Cumbernauld on 24 August 2010. The theme for the angel was "the meeting of the waters" which is the meaning of of the word Cumbernauld, from the Gaelic "comor nan allt".

The statue cost around £250,000 which is just under a third of the cost of the highly controversial Neon Waves project.

About 70,000 people will pass the 33ft angel, designed and built by Glaswegian artist Andy Scott, every day because of its position next to the A80.

The name Aria was chosen for the statue by the locals because Aria was the mother of Antonius, the Roman emperor who built the Antonine Wall in central Scotland.

She was introduced to the town as part of the "Cumbernauld Positive Image Project". Cumbernauld had previously won the Carbuncle award in 2001 for the worst designed town in Britain.

There have been mixed views about the angel and the money spent on it. A pupil of Greenfaulds High School whose parents own a farm near the A80 said "the statue is nice but the money could have been spent on schools and other stuff".

This was a common opinion, but of course there are others who fully support the angel project.

Brian Rees, a former resident of Cumbernauld, said: "The statue is nice and costs a lot less than the waves but is still unnecessary and the money could have been spent on doing up the architectural eyesore of a town centre."

In conclusion, the council should have informed the residents of these upcoming projects and then could have possibly avoided the controversy.

'Carbuncle' town unveils statue
24 Aug 10 |  Glasgow & West
Sculpture carries four-verse poem
12 Aug 10 |  Glasgow & West
What's it called? Cumbernauld
21 Nov 01 |  Scotland
Cumbernauld wins carbuncle award
21 Nov 01 |  Scotland


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific