FORMER Provost John McDowall is aiming to put ailing Paisley town centre back in the picture ... by erecting giant TV screens.
John has been racking his brains to find a solution to Paisley’s ‘ghost town centre’ image.
And he reckons he may just have found the answer – massive TV screens in County Square and Paisley High Street.
John – The former Provost of Renfrewshire – is part of a group called Paisley BID, which stands for Business Improvement District.
It’s an ambitious plan, but one that he, and those working alongside him to regenerate Paisley, believe can have a positive and long-lasting effect.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: “A group of businessmen and high-profile figures have got together to try and make Paisley a more happening place.
“Some of the events that have been staged in Paisley in the last couple of years have been fantastic, but we want to see them take place more often.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to stage the type of events that will bring people to the town centre on a regular basis and, in that respect, we’re hoping to take some of the weight off the council.
“We have a wealth of diverse talent in Paisley and these people need somewhere to showcase their talents.
“We want to give them a regular platform and reckon giant TV screens could be used to do just that, as well as for a multitude of other reasons.
“First of all, they could be used as a focal point in the centre of town, where people gather to watch and listen to piped music.
“And they would also be used to advertise upcoming events.”
John would like to see giant screens erected in, initially, County Square, and then the High Street, at the Cross and at the top of New Street.
It’s an idea that has proved successful in most major towns and cities throughout the United Kingdon, with Glasgow and Manchester springing immediately to mind.
John said: “We know they are expensive but we’re hoping to get a helping hand through a new grants scheme which has been set up by the Scottish Government.”
Paisley BID, which also counts bar owner, Piero Pieraccini, former MEP Hugh McMahon and Renfrewshire Council leader Mark McMillan as members, are currently consulting with town centre shopkeepers to see if they will back the group’s application.
Piero said: “Our bid would come under the banner of arts and culture.
“All shopkeepers have noticed a rise in traffic and turnover during such events as the Christmas lights switch-on, the Witch Project and Paisley 10k.
“Now, we’re asking them to back our application for a £20,000 grant from the Scottish Government, which could potentially be matched by Renfrewshire Council.
“The plan would be to hold an event, say, once a month, which would allow us to bring people into the town centre.
“The large TV screens would help us advertise what’s on in Paisley and no doubt act as an attraction in themselves.”
And John McDowall reckons the screens would eventually pay for themselves.
He explained: “There would be fairly hefty initial start-up costs but I’m convinced that, in the long run, they would pay for themselves.
“The only limit with this project is our imagination. We need to start thinking outside the box – and this is just the beginning.”