Thursday, 8 January 2009
Kilmarnock is not a ghost town!
COUNCILLOR Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, wants to make it clear that he does not recognise the description of Kilmarnock as a ghost town.
Councillor Reid (pictured above) said: “I was shocked by the article in a national newspaper which named Kilmarnock as a ghost town. It seems that business researcher, Experian, singled out 5 towns which it felt were most reliant on chain store firms who have recently folded. This goes against a recent survey which showed that in fact Kilmarnock is a ‘home town and not a clone town’ and has a good number of family-owned businesses who provide specialised goods and service. Also in 2006 Kilmarnock was named as Friendliest Shopping Town, and the people who helped secure this title for the town are still proudly working in their stores.
“This article also flies in the face of work that is currently ongoing in Kilmarnock. Tesco has started building their new superstore which will be the largest supermarket in Ayrshire, and the store should be completed by September. Once this project is completed, work will start on the old Safeway site where four new units and a restaurant will be created. Throughout the year there will be tangible evidence of improvement and regeneration in Kilmarnock.
“The regeneration of Kilmarnock is one of the Council’s top priorities, and this is reflected in our capital investment strategy and capital investment programme which is in excess of £100m over the next ten years. There will be significant investment in the short term which will support the construction industry in these difficult times. In addition the Kilmarnock Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme is also ploughing £18million into Kilmarnock town centre. This five-year grant programme makes grant aid available to owners of commercial and residential properties located in the John Finnie Street and Bank Street Outstanding Conservation Area to promote, preserve and enhance the traditional character and appearance of properties in the area."
Councillor Reid also highlighted the start of the new half-hour service from Kilmarnock to Glasgow which will take just 32 minutes. This will bring more people into Kilmarnock who can commute to Glasgow, and the Council will be working hard to attract people to shop in the town. The Council has also secured the restoration of the Strand building into offices, and this will equate to 240 jobs coming into town centre, which of course means more business for local shops. In addition Kilmarnock College has been invited by the Funding Council to submit full plans for a new college, which would be a tremendous boost to the town and the wider community.
Councillor Reid continued: “I have had a meeting with the Kilmarnock Retailers to see what the Council can do to help with the town centre, and I have also met with Marks and Spencers, who have assured me that the jobs in Kilmarnock are safe. While Kilmarnock cannot avoid the global financial situation and the loss of such shops as Woolworths, this is going to be a very positive year for the town and we must stop focusing upon the negatives. The Burns Monument Centre will be opening in the next month and this will attract visitors who wish to research their family tree. This will be the best genealogy centre outside Edinburgh and will be a big attraction for the area. Improvements are also being made to the Kay Park and this will become a must visit attraction once again.
“The Council is working hard to attract new businesses to replace the empty Woolworths site and through our Economic Development section will look at ways of attracting more family-run businesses to the area. We are constantly hearing about the global credit crunch and economic doom and gloom but we must stay positive. I would ask local people to trust that the Council is doing all it can to attract new business to the town, and please support your local traders.”
East Ayrshire Council
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