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Time for a Change!

After a great Lanark Lanimer Day there were voices saying the usual: “We will suffer for this!” and so we have!

The weather has been cruel over the school holidays and we have been resigned to watching Christmas videos to keep the kids happy.

So how does this old Burgh respond to getting visitors to return in the rain? Sadly the initiative comes from the Council, who are given millions of pounds to spend as they vote fit. We voted them in and we have four years to decide if they are as good as they promise. Rather a strange set up when most people given an office in real life are given a three month trial then booted out!

Lanark now has no public toilets apart from the expensive tardis in the Castlegate.

We have never increased our car parking to cater for more visitors.

We have failed to improve the signs to the secret car parks that we have.

We have failed to encourage local businesses to sort out their downbeat properties.

Times are hard but floral displays are a quick and easy solution. This was attempted years ago by Wrights and it had great potential. Sadly we lag behind Biggar, Peebles, Kelso and many other Border towns. A quick cover of paint would help. Could the Business Group maybe create a project to target this? Right now the town centre looks run down compared to other places trying to attract tourism. You are all closed on a Sunday. Why not visit the Borders or the Lake District and see what you can pick up on a Sunday!

On a similar theme I raise the lack of care in public places. Lanark in Bloom have been facing an uphill battle to improve the town. Instead of enhancing the work of the Council, they seem to have taken it over. It would appear that since they are doing a god job, resources go elsewhere.

There seems to be no one in charge of the appearance of the town centre. I would have expected the town centre manager to sort this out, but this post has disappeared after the Council got the town centre refurbishment scheme to get pushed through, aided by the Guildry.

I would like you all to see areas of places where a wee bit of careful work could make a huge difference to our town. It is maybe unfair to point the finger in any particular direction, but it backs up the point I am trying to get over. We are so proud of our Lanimers and so we should be! But why do we lose the momentum after it is over?

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Fig. 1 Great effort from Lanark in Bloom to create a good impression to visitors to the town. However the grass verge needs cutting with a lawn mower, not a strimmer!

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Fig 2. How the verge should look. This would appear to be the work of the Hotel who know about how to make a good impression with visitors.

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Fig 3.  A flower bed outside the Institute in the Castlegate. Seats against the building look on to this mess. How long would it take each week to keep it tidy?

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Fig 4. Part of our heritage is our historic Racecourse, closed in the 1970s. The famous Silver Bell Trophy was competed for here. Now it has gone to Hamilton. The Council cannot be bothered to use the strimmer this time to tidy up under their sign! Embarrassing!

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Fig 5. This listed building was once an example of the earliest Tote buildings to be built in Scotland. The Council are neglecting this building despite its importance locally. It will gradually become unsafe as the trees which are growing into it start to destroy it. Some early action would change it from an eyesore to a talking point for all the correct reasons. Who cares if we have Hamilton Racecourse 14 miles away?

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Fig 6. Another act of vandalism. The Murray Chapel performed a very useful function for the people of Lanark. Once again we have a building which has been abandoned to a slow lingering death. This Grade A listed building was gifted to the townspeople. Initially it could have been restored for about £50,000. Now due to apathy the cost of restoration will soon have increased by a staggering 20 times! Unbelievable!
 

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Fig 7. Delves Park is another gift to the town which is run by the Council. Only 50 yards from our town centre it should be an ideal tourist attraction, yet the flower beds are in an atrocious state! Imagine the poor owners of the accommodation looking on to this flower bed! The Council’s lack of caring is an insult to a proud community.

There is no easy answer to this. Civic pride is a difficult thing to create, and logically it should stem from our Council. If they do it well then it should rub off on the community they are in charge of. From the above they give the impression they just do not care.

A thing like the Lanimers is a community-run initiative, and the Council offers a great deal of support to it. Families and children do their bit in a build up to Lanimers too. Once over, they go on holiday and pass it back to the Council and the Business Group for their busy time for tourists and they are not geared up.

The photographs show how shoddy the Council can be about certain areas of the town, and equally shopkeepers could be doing a lot better on how they present their property. Lanark High Street has only two businesses prepared to display hanging baskets! Compare this to Biggar, Peebles and the other Border towns we are competing with for visitors. Is it any wonder we are losing out?

In the autumn we think about Halloween and Guy Fawkes. Do we really get behind this? The Round Table do, but the High Street is dead as families return from the fireworks!

At Christmas, when a huge crowd is present to see the Christmas lights switched on, the shops close at 5pm. Why?

When the Community Council organises the Festive Taste of Lanark in December why are most of the local shops closed?

When is the Late Night opening this year? Coinciding with the switch on? Nope!

I feel very sorry for our local Councillors. For all the criticism I present against the Council, I feel really upset that they have to face the brunt of all the complaints that are flung at them.
All three try hard to support issues raised and work hard to get answers. Their problem is nowadays the boot is on the other foot.

In the past the Councillors decided policy, accepted reports from officials and then directed them as to what was expected. Today it is scary! Officials inform Councillors what is happening and they have to accept their expert knowledge. The party decides how to vote and our local opinion goes out the window! How people who stood on a base of representing the local community now have to go with the flow must be very uncomfortable for them!

On a final note I must comment on the restricted traffic flows being imposed every week to allow essential works to be carried out. The most recent was chaos as a gas supply was to be delivered to a property in St Leonard Street.
The dreaded traffic lights were installed and for two days huge queues of traffic built up as people tried to move around the town. Traffic from the west was queued to Kirkfieldbank and also to Cartland Bridge. This was all due to a poorly thought out system of traffic management that was approved by Council experts with little thought about the inconvenience they were creating for a community they appear to care little for.

The Council officials must communicate much better with those they are employed by. There are various established routes for this, but the impression is given that such discussion is more trouble than it is worth for them.

Time for a change!