Page last updated at 00:53 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Towns requiring revamp nominated

Town pictures - Courtesy Undiscovered Scotland
Kilmarnock, Dunfermline, Langholm and Brechin were among the towns suggested as in need of regeneration

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Sites across Scotland have been suggested as potential beneficiaries from a 60m regeneration fund.

The Scottish Government recently announced the resources being made available to help improve town centres.

A number of nominations came in after a BBC Scotland news website feature named Dumfries as a prospective candidate.

Kilmarnock, Paisley, Cumbernauld, Port Glasgow, Brechin, Dunfermline, Langholm and Stranraer were cited by the public as other places in need support.

Towns should not be bailed out by the taxpayer for the public policy failures which they had years to address and simply chose not to
Heather Burns
Via e-mail
Concerns about the condition of Dumfries were echoed by e-mails sent by residents to the BBC.

Colin Green commented: "This town centre of ours is suffering because the rates in it are too high, there are too many out-of-town supermarkets ... and because there is insufficient parking near the town centre.

"All these are issues that the council could tackle but there is a feeling that they have no ideas about how to arrest the decline.

"It would help, too, if people who live here did make the effort to shop in the town centre."

That was a view shared by Ian Johnston from near Castle Douglas.

"For years now, the local authority here has encouraged out-of-town shopping developments in Dumfries and that has almost certainly led to the decline of the town centre," he said.

Paisley was described as "poor with many empty shops"
"In short, Dumfries's decay has been planned - perhaps not deliberately - but planned all the same."

Ray Owen, also from Castle Douglas, said parking problems, poor shops and the ease of internet shopping had added to the town's "depressing downward spiral".

The Queen of the South, however, is not alone.

Stranraer and Langholm, both in Dumfries and Galloway, were suggested as sites for investment - the latter in order to make better use of its links to Thomas Telford.

Further north, Kilmarnock was nominated by local resident Scott Hendry, as an example of "slow but steady decline".

"If you are looking for a pound shop, mobile phone or card shop then you are in luck," he said.

"Kilmarnock is meant to accommodate other shoppers from the surrounding area, Stewarton to Crosshouse and, to be honest, even those people don't bother with it."

Tourist publicity

Another e-mail suggested Dunfermline as being "badly in need of help".

"It suffers badly from Fife tourist publicity being aimed at the East Neuk and St Andrews," said Jess Mitchell.

"The increased population does not seem to have helped improve the facilities, possibly since so many of the newcomers work - and shop - in Edinburgh."

Stranraer was another town named as needing an overhaul
Elsewhere, Paisley was described as "in a poor way with many empty shops" while Cumbernauld was dubbed "one of the most miserable town's in the UK".

Another e-mail said Port Glasgow was "in dire need of regeneration".

"Bring back variety, bring back choice, bring back local shops selling local products and put some pride back in the town," it added.

A final nomination came for Brechin where "any amount of money spent would be helpful".

However, not everyone felt that a regeneration fund was the correct way to tackle such problems.

Heather Burns said: "Just as there is an outcry over the bosses at nationalised banks receiving bonuses, I am outraged that this 60m fund is up for grabs."

She said a walk through a town such as Paisley showed the problem was not economics or infrastructure but rather attitude.

"What sort of message does it send out when failure is rewarded by taxpayer subsidies?" she said.

"Towns should not be bailed out by the taxpayer for the public policy failures which they had years to address and simply chose not to."

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