A CAMPAIGN group aims to breathe new life into a Renfrewshire town dubbed the most dismal in Scotland.
The newly-launched Linwood Community Development Trust involves organisations and individuals concerned about the future of the town, which was recently presented with the dreaded Carbuncle Award.
The group, which was previously called Linwood Coalition, has been working with Oxfam and the Scottish Community Foundation to put together a community plan in a bid to transform Linwood’s fortunes.
It is also eyeing up empty plots in the town with a view to building and managing new community facilities.
Board trustee Kirsty Flannigan was born and bred in Linwood and is passionate about bringing her town out of its current sorry state.
She told the Paisley Daily Express: “There were rumours that Linwood Community Education Centre was going to be demolished.
“It took six months for the council to sit round the table with us and tell us the decision had been made to demolish it. That’s what initially got the group together.
“About two years later, campaigners are still here and still fighting.”
The group is currently working on a business plan and has a number of ambitions for the town. These include:
A community cafe and food co-op
Youth and children’s clubs
A community-run theatre group
Community-based environmental projects
A detailed report has already been put together, charting the proud manufacturing history of Linwood and its subsequent decline.
In recent years, hopes were raised that Tesco would build a new superstore and demolish the rundown town centre but that has yet to happen.
Kirsty said: “We’ve sent the report to Renfrewshire Council and Tesco because we are getting fed up waiting.
“Tesco was granted planning permission last July and, every couple of months, they claim they’re going to start demolishing the town centre.
“We do question whether this is ever going to happen. There are some critics in the town who say it’ll never happen. If Tesco isn’t going to build a new town centre then they could at least demolish the old one.”
Kirsty said the new group is inspired by the Renton Community Development Trust, which has helped to regenerate the deprived area of Dunbartonshire with help from the local housing association.
She added: “If we’re not allowed to be involved in big planning projects in our town then we’ll need to think about doing it ourselves.
“We feel we’re being excluded by those who are meant to include us.
“We are a group of volunteers who are prepared to give up our own time for our community and I don’t think that’s been recognised.”
The group is being supported by Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Jim Sheridan, as well as local councillors Anne Hall, Iain McMillan, David Clews, Sam Mullin and Allan Noon.
It is also backed by groups such as Linwood Community Council, Linwood Elderly Forum, Linwood RYC, St Conval’s Football Club, Tweedie Hall User Group and the Development Trust Association Scotland.
Anyone interested in joining Linwood CDT or finding out more about the group can contact them by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org