Broxburn in the running for embarrassing Carbuncle ‘prize’

Hall's of Broxburn
Hall's of Broxburn
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It IS the badge of dishonour pinned each year on one unfortunate town – and it could be heading to West Lothian.

Broxburn is among the nominations for this year’s Carbuncle Award, an ironic prize recognising some of the ugliest places and architecture in Scotland.

Broxburn High Street

Broxburn High Street

The town has been put forward for the decidedly unprestigious ‘Plook on the Plinth’ category, which is given to the most dismal community in the country.

News that the embarrassing accolade could be making its way to Broxburn has now sparked anger amongst local leaders.

Tony Roy, chairman of Broxburn Community Council, said: “Broxburn doesn’t fulfil this criteria at all. It doesn’t deserve to be nominated and it’s certainly not an award that I would like to see the town accept.

“Hardly any shops in the town are empty and a lot of hard work has gone in to upgrading the centre – we’ve had a shop front regeneration campaign, we’ve got public art going up and new pavements.”

Mr Roy, who runs a tea room in the town, added that a shopping area in Argyle Court used to illustrate Broxburn had been upgraded since the entry photograph had been taken.

“Argyle Court is not even a run down area – you’ve got blue-chip companies there like Peacocks,” he added.

Run by architecture and planning magazine Urban Realm since 2002, the Carbuncle awards also include the ‘Pock Mark’ award for the worst planning decision and the ‘Zit Building’ category for Scotland’s most disappointing new building.

Urban Realm described the nominations for the Plook of the Plinth so far as harbouring a variety of “ills”, ranging from the collapse of the lace industry, an open cast quarry and – in Broxburn’s case – “dreary” shops. Other contenders include Newmilns in Ayrshire and Leslie in Fife.

Broxburn councillor Alex Davidson, who has lived in the town for 64 years, said: “Broxburn should not be judged on its buildings alone. It should be judged on its people and as far as I’m concerned the people of Broxburn are diamonds.

“West Lothian Council has spent a lot money on town centre investment and I’d rather people were talking up Broxburn instead of bringing it down.”

He said the news had come at a particularly bad time, in the wake of the expected closure of Hall’s of Broxburn meat processing factory. He added: “If we are talking about confidence within the community at the moment, putting Broxburn forward for that nomination is not going to help. It’s pretty sad.”

Broxburn could follow in the footsteps of previous Plook on the Plinth towns John O’Groats, Glenrothes, Coatbridge and Cumbernauld, when the award is handed out in March.

Urban Realm editor John Glenday said: “Our towns are under greater pressure than ever before, suffering continued dissipation of resources and fragmentation of once close-knit communities. From flagging retail, to an exodus of the young and a planning and legal system that often seems perversely designed to throttle rather than nurture.

“The Carbuncle Awards are an antidote to this insidious decline which has hit our towns since the onset of recession in 2008.”

One-time ‘shaleopolis’

Established around 1600, Broxburn was based on agriculture until the development of the oil shale industry during the second half of the 19th century.

The town – which became known as ‘shaleopolis’ – played a major part in West Lothian’s oil boom, prompting a huge expansion of the population.

Its largest employers are the under-threat Hall’s meat processing and Broxburn Bottlers. With a population of around 14,000, it also serves as a commuter town.

What Broxburn gives the world

• Michael Caton-Jones: Born in the town, the Hollywood director is the man behind The Jackal starring Bruce Willis and the 1995 film Rob Roy.

• Papa Chans Chinese and Italian restaurant: Where else could you combine a delicious spring roll starter with Mamma’s lasagne?

• Dobbies Garden Centre: The perfect weekend haunt for the green fingered.

• Broxburn United Sports Club Trust: More than 400 members training and develop their football skills there every week, with volunteer coaches encouraging children to learn to love football and keep fit.

• Churches: Broxburn has a wealth of attractive churches, including the St John Cantuis and St Nicholas, home to impressive hedges.