A RUN-DOWN Renfrewshire town will today be handed Scotland’s most dreaded award...after being declared the most dismal place in the country.
The Paisley Daily Express can reveal that Linwood is to be presented with the infamous Plook on the Plinth prize by organisers of the Carbuncle Awards.
The once-proud manufacturing hub ‘saw off’ competition from Dumbarton, Ardrossan, Port Glasgow, Cambuslang, Irvine, Nairn and Fort William to land the prize that no town wants.
Competition judges said they were left “shocked” by the decrepit state of the concrete shopping precinct which has turned Linwood town centre into an eyesore.
It was the first of its kind to be built in Scotland but has been left to crumble through years of neglect and was left in limbo as supermarket giants Tesco dithered over whether or not to go ahead with plans to breathe new life into the town through a multi-million pound redevelopment.
Now angry residents have slammed the decision-makers whose “inaction and squabbling” has led to Linwood being publicly shamed.
Community councillor Matilda Toland, who has lived in the town for 45 years, said: “We should all be ashamed that Linwood has received this prize.
“I blame the council and Tesco – both of them have left the town to rot and it’s the people of Linwood who have been left to suffer.”
Tesco had pledged to transform Linwood’s crumbling shopping precinct in a £20million revamp but, four years on, workers haven’t even bulldozed the empty stores yet.
Such is the extent of Linwood’s decline that a statue representing hope rising from adversity had to be removed after vandals hacked pieces off it for scrap.
The area around the shopping centre has also been branded a safety hazard, with open manhole covers, unsecured buildings and an absence of adequate garbage collection creating a breeding ground for rats.
Now residents are demanding action is taken to restore Linwood – which was once known around the world as the manufacturing base for the famous Hillman Imp – to its former glory.
And John Glenday – editor of Urban Realm, the magazine behind the Carbuncle Awards – believes there is hope yet for the town.
He said: “It’s been three months of trudging around some of the countries darkest corners but, in the end, judging for the 2011 Carbuncle Awards didn’t prove too challenging – Linwood’s plight was simply too great to ignore.
“Scotland’s first shopping centre is also its worst, leaving Linwood as a town without a heart, but it isn’t a lost cause.
“It could be turned around and turned around quite quickly. To do so, however, requires action and it is in this spirit – as a catalyst for change – that Linwood has been awarded this year’s Carbuncle Award.”
Corrosion expert Geoff Crowley, who was also on the judging panel for the Carbuncle Awards, added: “Despite the problems in Linwood, you see lots of examples of pride in the community, such as flowers in the garden and clipped hedges.
“That’s a good base to start with and to try to draw back to a more acceptable situation.
“There are a lot of people who have a certain level of pride in this community.”
Paisley was nominated for the Plook on the Plinth Award four years ago but, on that occasion, the dubious honour went to Coatbridge.
l Do you have something to say on Linwood’s Plook on the Plinth Award? If so, call Lynn Jolly in the Express newsroom on 0141 847 8637 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org