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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 11:47 GMT
What 'dump row' MSP told Holyrood
Christopher Harvie
Mr Harvie was not impressed by the sights he witnessed
An apology has been sought after Nationalist MSP Chris Harvie branded a south west Scotland town a "dump" and described a main street in an English city as a "booze canyon".

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP made his comments about Lockerbie and Carlisle as the Scottish Parliament's economy, energy and tourism committee held an evidence session during a debate on increasing tourism.

Here is an extract of what he told the committee:

Christopher Harvie: "I will give some examples from a journey that I made to meet friends in Carlisle 10 days ago.

"First, it involved paying a rail fare for what was actually a bus journey that went as far as Lockerbie, because the line was closed for improvements. One should put such 'improvements' in inverted commas, because the line seems to be closed all the time.

"On getting to Lockerbie, I discovered that the place is a dump - it was Tescotown. It should really have a certain attraction of a rather sombre kind as a place where something terrible happened; there are, after all, places on the western front and that sort of thing that have such an attraction for families who have lost people there.

"There are some attractive Victorian buildings, but roughly two thirds of the shops in the main street are derelict, and there were lots of kids hanging around the place smoking, drinking and so on. It was not in the least attractive.

"In Carlisle itself, the street of Butchergate is a booze canyon. At our hotel, the manager said that they have tried to stop them, but another four pubs have opened up in the last three years.

Bavarian kids rarely wear anything other than knickerbockers or something like that
Christopher Harvie

"It is just a booze alley - the conditions can be imagined.

"Going out for a meal on a Saturday evening, even if there were any good places - that would apply to the Scottish side of the border as well - would involve taking one's life in one's hands.

"There is also the issue of Scottish youth, and I am afraid that I have to describe it in the following way. Travelling back and forth on the bus from Galashiels, the local kids get on and put their feet, with big muddy trainers, right up on the seats opposite.

"If one tried to tell them to remove their feet from the seats, one would be likely to have a very miserable journey from then on.

"The kids are a problem, and those are the people that the industry needs as its staff. It is a problem that one encounters almost nowhere else in Europe.

"It must also be said that the most immense fortune that has been made in Scotland in the past few years - that of [Sports Division founder] Tom Hunter - has arisen from selling people what must be the ugliest clothes worn by anyone on the entire continent.

"Bavarian kids rarely wear anything other than knickerbockers or something like that, but here that is replaced by universal sports goods, barely concealing the fact that Scotland is perhaps the least healthy nation in western Europe. We have a lot of problems there. Our remit . . ."

Tavish Scott, committee convener: "What would you like to ask?

Mr Harvie: "I will come to my biting conclusion."

Mr Scott: "Your biting question would be good."

Mr Harvie: "Our question is about how we can increase tourism by 50%. In other words, how do we put it back roughly to where it was around 1990, when our tourist balance was the same going in and out?

"The various things that I have suggested are major inhibitions to that.

"Poor public transport, run-down towns - because of our supermarket culture - and kids who live in a society that is no longer mechanised and industrialised and therefore has no good vocational jobs to offer, all contribute to a very poor urban ambience.

"Those are the factors that I am questioning. We can get so far by improving the article itself, and the tourism industry has done marvels in that respect - the actual standard of tourism in Scotland is much higher than it has been before - but we are up against great problems."

SEE ALSO
Apology demanded for 'dump' town
26 Feb 08 |  South of Scotland

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