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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 15:33 GMT
Cumbernauld wins carbuncle award
Cumbernauld
Cumbernauld town centre was heavily criticised
New town Cumbernauld has been named as the "most dismal place in Scotland".

Gretna, Aviemore, Dumbarton and two areas of Edinburgh were also in the running for the Carbuncle award, backed by the business magazine, Unlimited.

But it was Cumbernauld - described as Scotland's answer to Kabul - which took the unwelcome top accolade.

Cumbernauld - history
The name Cumbernauld is Gaelic for "meeting of the waters"
The town has a pre-mediaeval history
The main industry in the 17th century was hand loom weaving
Mining and quarrying later dominated the economy
In 1956 the New Town of Cumbernauld was created
It is now a major town in North Lanarkshire
It is not the town but the town centre which swayed the judges.

They described it as "a rabbit warren on stilts", and as dismal as last year's winner Airdrie.

Judges said the concrete centre was "soulless and inaccessible, something like Eastern Europe before the wall came down".

Gordon Young, Carbuncle chairman and editor of Unlimited magazine, accused North Lanarkshire Council of seriously neglecting the town.

This is the second time the infamous 'plook' has been given to a town in North Lanarkshire, last year it was awarded to Airdrie.

Mr Young said: "Cumbernauld, won this prize, not because of the mistakes made in the 1960s, but because politicians have failed to do anything to remedy those mistakes.

"It is not a deprived area, and it is not suffering from a lack of investment, what appears to be lacking is political will and sensible planning.

It is not a deprived area, and it is not suffering from a lack of investment, what appears to be lacking is political will and sensible planning

Gordon Young, Unlimited magazine
"There is so much design talent in Scotland I can't see why we don't make better use of it."

But Archie Fleming, the editor of the Cumbernauld News, said: "I think the people of Cumbernauld are very proud of their town, but they are very ashamed of their town centre.

"So, they see this as the perfect opportunity to promote Cumbernauld as a positive place to live, which it is, you only have to look at the number of new housing developments which are going up here.

"People are flocking to come and live in Cumbernauld, but you only have to look at the letters page of the Cumbernauld News each week to see that the biggest single issue that troubles people is the town centre."

Meanwhile the worst building Carbuncle went to Glasgow's new maternity hospital at the Royal Infirmary, described as a blot on the city's landscape.

Edinburgh's business plaza The Exchange and Haymarket Station earned nominations.

On the official awards website, where votes were cast, The Exchange's buildings were described as "architecture on steroids".

Savage criticism

Meanwhile an anonymous contributor said of Haymarket station: "Waiting for a train here is like waiting for the end of the earth."

And despite its status as one of the country's leading tourist attractions, Aviemore was not spared.

Cumbernauld of 1915
The Cumbernauld of yesteryear was a thriving hand loom weaving town
The site said: "When Aviemore was first developed there were aspirations it would become the San Moritz of Scotland, but as holiday resorts go, it probably has more in common with Skegness.

"Aviemore is OK when it is completely covered with snow, but at any other time it makes your heart sink."

Among the other contenders, Dumbarton's High Street was branded a "disgrace" while the awards panel detected "a genuine lack of will to turn the place around".

Gretna Green was attacked by an unnamed contributor as "a miserable, money-grabbing little place which encapsulates everything that is wrong with the Scottish tourist industry".

Last year the Lanarkshire town of Airdrie topped the poll after it fought off competition from nine other finalists, including Campbeltown, Ardrossan and Balloch.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Huw Williams
assesses if Cumbernauld is the most dismal town in Scotland
BBC Scotland's Pauline McLean reports
"Mosty places look dismal in the rain and Cumbernauld is no exception"
See also:

20 Nov 00 | Scotland
17 Nov 00 | Scotland
16 Sep 99 | e-cyclopedia
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