New Cumnock named Scotland's 'most dismal town' with Carbuncle award

Urban Realm magazine cites 'haemorrhaging of shops' and 'a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties' for gong

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The Independent Online

A former pit community, New Cumnock, was today named Scotland's "most dismal town".

Urban Realm magazine gave the East Ayrshire town its annual Carbuncle award, citing the “haemorrhaging of shops” and “a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties.”

Fort William, Motherwell, Kirkintilloch, Newmilns and Paisley were shortlisted.

Urban Realm, which specialises in Scottish housing, said the building of new primary school in New Cumnock had been overshadowed by the threatened closure of the town hall and the sell-off of a church.

“These losses have been compounded by the continued haemorrhaging of shops on the High Street and a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties, raising the very real risk that a tipping point into irreversible decline could be reached soon if action isn't taken now,” it added.

New Cumnock, which has 1,800 residents, was hit by the decline of coal mining in the 1980s.

Resident and historian Geoff Crolley, who accepted the Carbuncle on behalf of the community, said: “Towns like New Cumnock have given so much to businesses and what do we have to show for it?

“If we count up what monies have been taken from our parish by WORF & Co (windfarms, opencast, forestry and Co-op) in the last decade and look  at our main street.”

Urban Design’s editor, John Glenday, said the judges had warmed to the “plight” of the townsfolk whose energy was “as strong as ever”.

He added: “More than an escape valve for pent up frustrations, the Carbuncles are a springboard to tangible improvements.”