Linwood named as 2011 Carbuncle ‘winner’

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.

Linwood has been no stranger to controversy since it made headlines as the location of S1 Jobs infamous ‘Lavvy Heid’. Since then the town itself has gone down the toilet as its main shopping centre has been slowly run into the ground. As Urban Realm found out however residents, under the ‘Linwood Sucks’ banner, are increasingly finding their voice in the face of official neglect.

Linwood’s town centre, conceived in 1969, was sold as Scotland’s first regional shopping centre – but it never quite got there as the judging panel quickly discovered upon arrival. Some have attempted to apportion the blame on the closure of the Rootes car plant but for Tom Burke, a local community champion and founder of, the malaise goes deeper: “Everyone blamed the decline on the car plant, but that closed in 1980. Obviously there is more to it than that.  I first noticed the visual decline in 2001 when S1 Jobs did their famous TV advert here, ‘Lavvy Heid’.”

Linwood then is a town without a heart as those businesses which survive decant to a nearby industrial estate. In their wake lies a town centre which viscerally defines the word grim, particularly at night when gatherings of the Linwood Young Team congregate in groups of up to 20. “They’re mostly not doing any harm just looking for somewhere to hang out”, points out Burke, “but old people coming through here at night do look quite vulnerable.”

Eyeing a series of exposed concrete beams on the centre roof Burke ventures. “This is a popular play area, the youth will run across these concrete beams. The closest you’ll get to any youth centre is up in the community centre – which is scheduled to be demolished.”
Peeling shop fronts reveal something of the time warp which Linwood has become as eighties digital font betrays a protracted absence of investment. “There’s been no upkeep or maintenance, all it’s got is thirty years of pigeon shit inside,” moans Burke. In that time the main growth in the town has come from an array of impressive stalactites.

Remaining life centres on the library, from which the Urban Realm team was swiftly ejected. There are no shops left open and most of the lighting has either fallen down or been removed. Adjoining the library is Tweedie Hall, the defacto town hall, and a health centre, which remains in use. Nearby the fire escape to the original opticians has a cage, chain and padlock on it in response to the shop being held up a few years back. It has since moved to a portacabin on site with its own secure entry. The receptionist is delighted with the new place: if only to escape the “pigeons and rats”.

Intercepting one woman on route from the health entre to the bus stop, we asked what life was like in Linwood: “There’s nothing going on in Linwood, they said it (redevelopment) would start last month. The date keeps changing so we don’t know what’s happening. It’s an eyesore, even if they flattened it it wouldn’t be so bad. It’s been like this for years.”

A statue once stood at the centre of this square behind us but has been removed for safe keeping: “Vandals started hacking pieces off it, so it had to be removed”, Burke explained: “It looked a bit like a ship and was supposed to represent hope rising from adversity. It’s been put in storage and the council say it will be replaced if the new town centre ever comes to fruition. A group of unlicensed scrap merchants seem to be on a mission to strip everything of value from the shopping centre.”

A local council worker on route to Tweedie Hall ventured: “Its like Fort Apache. I feel really strongly about the sociological implications never mind the health implications. They seem to strangle every initiative… it’s this Tescoisation of the world where they’ll buy up land so no-one else can build. At the bottom of the food chain are the punters who are in effect powerless.”

Eyeing a loosely fenced off area of shattered paving Burke explains: “The last surviving post box was removed in the last couple of weeks, this is typical of development work in Linwood, dig something up and leave it.  There is no bank in the town, just one surviving post office a mile and a half away.” For a place of 9,000 odd folk it must be one of the largest communities in the country without these key facilities.

“I’ve spent the best part of four years in Iraq and thinking of some of the positive reconstruction work that’s taken place there it’s actually better than this,” Burke laments.

But how could things have been allowed to get this bad? “I believe it was a tactical decision by Tesco as early as 2000 when a company called Balmore bought the shopping centre, after that it was run into the ground,” Burke muses. “Only later did it emerge that Balmore is actually part of Tesco. No-one really wants a Tesco but if their plan was to make the town centre so bad that locals would accept anything then that plan has worked. People are now welcoming Tesco. People would rather have nothing than this dangerous eyesore.”
The attentions of Tesco have thus far not served the town well and Linwood is already well served by an Asda and Co-op, perhaps a more promising sign of hope lies in Club Sandwich, small scale, entrepreneurial venture. Skirting an open manhole cover, Burke adds: “Nobody wants to spend maintenance on something scheduled to be demolished – but if you’ve opened something as a through route then you have a duty of care and certain health and safety duties.”

Carbuncles judge Geoff Crowley of Highland Galvanizers said: “The actual fabric isn’t so bad, the frame isn’t so far gone that you couldn’t make something out of it. The concrete’s spalled and some of the flat roofing could be a bit of a problem so probably no-one’s taken much interest in looking at a refurbishment programme.

“Yes there are eyesores, yes there are problems with contamination but Linwood’s housing isn’t so bad. Look at that pile of rubbish there, if the neighbour sees that they’ll think it doesn’t matter if they don’t mow the lawn. It’s broken window theory, if there is a problem, it spreads like a cancer and becomes a general lowering of community standards. It’s got to be nipped in the bud.

“You see lots of examples of pride in the community despite these problems, flowers in the garden, clipped hedges. That’s a good base to start with and try and draw back to a more acceptable situation. There are a lot of people who have a certain level of pride in this community.

“Sometimes if you have a Carbuncle you need to cut bits out and it could be that that bit there (the centre), which is not performing any function, maybe not having it, if you just levelled it and grassed it, would be better than what you’ve got. It wouldn’t be what you want but it would be better than what you’ve got and when there’s no money that might be a solution.”

Another bone of contention for our judges was the prevalence of ‘no ball games signs’ on vacant ground.  At one time there were as many as a dozen playgrounds dotted around town but since the 90s they’ve all slowly been removed. Including one, inadvertently, closed down by Burke himself when he discovered it had been built on contaminated ground. Crowley said: “Linwood needs lots of little playgrounds and it has the space for them. Putting all the play activity inside a big shed is not a good idea, kids need to play outside.”
Burke added: “If people are living their normal busy, day to day schedules they might never see this. They might just drive up the main roads going backwards and forwards to work and be oblivious to the eyesore of the shopping centre because they’ve gotten so used to it.”

This observation highlighted by a key rift in the community; those with cars and those without. “If you don’t have a car you’re at a massive disadvantage,” Burke noted.  “You’ve got the Phoenix Retail Park with its cinema, Asda and McDonald’s but there is no allowance for pedestrian access – you see young mothers with prams, old age pensioners and kids on bikes risking their lives to cross the motorway twice to reach the Phoenix.”

This divide highlights a key difficulty for Linwood; can it make up its mind and agree on a town centre or admit that there are actually multiple centres? On the map it’s difficult to pinpoint a true centre, the existing mall being right on the edge and yet that’s where Renfrewshire Council place their Christmas tree. Linwood isn’t a lost cause. It could be turned around and turned around quite quickly. To do so however requires action, it is in this spirit as a catalyst for change that Linwood has been awarded the 2012 Carbuncle awards.

Text taken from

a Christmas cracker of a night with Mrs Clause hosting the gig


Headliners Stu and Garry: The Stand’s resident imorov troupe

“Really REALLY funny! Stu and Gary tick all the boxes: They have obviously been arsing about together for years – from Brazilian Soap Opera to Extreme Ironing. Add to this a fab array of accents, total confidence, sharpness, genuine ear-to-ear grins – and you’ve got yourself a really good night out. Highly recommended.”
Plus 2 great support acts, a Crimbo Quiz and Karaoke too, and all for a £5 note. You lucky people. Tickets will be going fast for this extraordinary night of live entertainment so get your finger out.

The Paisley Songwriters Guild have their festive bash in the Hoose on Wednesday the 21st December. A briiliant night of original singer songwiters showcasing their talents. The stars of the future today in Hamishes’

The festive Karaoke on Christmas and New Years eve kicks off around 3pm as we will be closing at 10pm. On Boxing day and the 2nd Jan we will have Karaoke from the magic Chris. A full menu will be available over the holidays so to secure a table phone 0141 561 7105

Have a happy Christmas at Hamishes’ Hoose

Hi Folks,

Just a wee note to say that from Thursday the 1st December we are doing our world famous Buy One Get One Free Deal on Traditional Roast Turky Dinners as well as our Regular Main Meals, Aye TWO smashing Norfolk roast Bird with all the trimmings dinners for the price of ONE. You dont like turkey but you pal does, easy get whatever you want from the regular menu and your pal the turkey and you get the cheaper one free. Sounds like we are Bonkers, no that was a club in Glasgow (LOL) we are Hamishes’ Hoose the Home of Hospitality right here in Paisley, take advantage of us.


Hamishes’ Hoose


The PDT invites all the people of Paisley to attend our annual wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of the 71 children that lost their lives in the Glen Cinema disaster of 1929. We will gather at the Cenotaph near The Cross at 10.30am on the 31st December. There will be a short service with prayers and thoughts from Bishop Tartalia, Reverend Alan Briss and from our Provost Celia Lawson, thereafter there will be some hot refreshments in the PDT office at the YMCA at the corner of High Street and New Street.

Kyva’s Boutique opened Saturday 22nd October, in Moss Street, Paisley. We stock brands such as Brat & Suzie and Collective.

We stock a range of items, dresses, trousers, jackets, bags, purses, t-shirts, limited edition t-shirts and jewellery, some are a one-off.

Kyva’s Boutique is bringing something different to Paisley, casual wear and something for all those nights out.

We are affordable.

Contact or 0141 840 2240

Festive campaign launches one stop shop for safety

Community safety organisations across Renfrewshire have teamed up to launch a one stop shop for information and advice as part of their festive safety campaign.

The Community Safety Shop has opened in the Paisley Centre and will run until Friday 23 December from 9.30am until 4.30pm every day.

Around 20 partner organisations have signed up to take part and have staff on hand at different times to provide information, advice and act as a point of contact for members of the public.

Renfrewshire Wardens Service, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, Strathclyde Police and Renfrewshire Community Health Partnership will all be on hand. There will also be officers from Renfrewshire Council’s Trading Standards and Antisocial Behaviour Investigations (ASIST) teams.

The shop will also be used to invite people to sign up for Renfrewshire’s Ready for Winter campaign.

The launch of the shop also marks the start of additional safety measures being introduced for the festive period.

Councillor Kenny MacLaren, Renfrewshire Council’s Community Safety spokesperson, said: “Throughout the year we work closely with our community safety partners to ensure that people in Renfrewshire feel safe. This is particularly important over the festive period when unfortunately the actions of a few can ruin things for others. The festive safety campaign combines support and advice for the public through the community safety shop with extra measures to ensure our town centres stay safe this Christmas.”

A taxi marshal service will be provided by Renfrewshire Wardens Service in Paisley town centre on Friday and Saturday nights starting from Friday 9 December.

There will also be additional and late night patrols in Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew town centres by both the wardens and Strathclyde Police.

Inspector Joe Thomson of Strathclyde Police said: “As at any time of year, we’re here to keep people safe and whilst we want everyone to enjoy the festivities, we would also urge everyone to take responsibility for their own safety too. Increased levels of alcohol make people more vulnerable, cause them to take risks they would not normally consider and increase the chance of being a victim of crime.

“We have seen significant reductions in violent crime in Renfrewshire in recent years. However we are not complacent and in particular at this time of year we will be working extra hard to have a highly visible presence in town centres and hotspot areas in order to deter those intent on violent crime and antisocial behaviour.”

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue’s Area Commander of Renfrewshire, John Ironside, said: “We are delighted to be working with our Community Planning partners to improve Community Safety in Renfrewshire

“Last year we attended 250 house fires over the holiday period where six people died and 68 people were injured. Two of those fatal house fires occurred in Renfrewshire.

“There are simple steps that any householder can take to reduce the risk of fire.  Take care to put cigarettes out properly, and don’t cook if you are under the influence of alcohol.  But the most fundamental step that anyone can take is to make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home. If fire does break out it could be your only chance of waking up.”

Strathclyde Fire & Rescue will supply and fit a long life smoke alarm free of charge as part of the Home Fire Safety Visit process. Their call centre is open 24 hours a day, and they will arrange to fit a smoke alarm, and offer home safety advice, at a time that suits you.

Contact phone numbers:

Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Strathclyde Police 0141 532 2000

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue 0800 0731 999

Renfrewshire Council Anti-social Behaviour Helpline 0800 169 1283

Renfrewshire Wardens Service 0141 889 3499

Renfrewshire kids enjoy the area’s first Winter Games

Around 200 Renfrewshire high school kids took part in the area’s first ever Winter Games last week.

S1 and S2 pupils from Renfrewshire’s high schools were invited to take part in the games at Linwood Sports Centre on Friday – which featured three indoor sports: Ultimate Frisbee, dodgeball and indoor curling.

Councillor Susan McDonald, Renfrewshire Council’s Sports Champion, said: “The 2011 Winter Games is a new and welcome addition to a well-established and popular Secondary School Sport Calendar.

“We have many after school clubs featuring dodgeball and Ultimate Frisbee as a result of pupils requests, so the Winter Games gave our lower high school pupils the chance to enjoy these sports in a larger-scale game situation.”

The winning teams for each category are

-Dodgeball: Castlehead High School
-Ultimate Frisbee: Renfrew High School
-Indoor curling: Renfrew High School

Please click on the link for photos.

For regular updates on local news and events follow @RenCouncilNews on Twitter or the council’s Renfrewshire page on Facebook.

Renfrewshire chamber

2011, for Renfrewshire Chamber has been one of its best ever years. It was officially the fastest growing Chamber in the UK, with growth of >25% and the reached the UK final of Chamber of the Year. The Chamber is on its way to approaching a target of 600 members by end of March 2012 – and to help it achieve that is offering new members the chance to join in January 2012 and save 25%. Our AGM and final event of the year (Christmas Lunch) are on Thu 15th December at the Glynhill.

The Chamber uses Paisley venues as best it can – and in addition to its regular lunches, will be holding its 2nd B2B event at Paisley Town Hall – Business Matters in Renfrewshire on the 10th May 2012. The event in 2011 attracted 250 businesses. We are also planning to hold an event in the Museum / Observatory in early March.

To find out how your local Chamber can help your business “grow and prosper” visit

Weaving Musical Threads is a Music Nation weekend – celebrating Renfrewshire’s people, history and its place in the world – showcasing the Arts with free events on 3 and 4 March 2012.
The events are taking part in different parts of Renfrewshire on the Saturday (Paisley Arts Centre; Paisley Museum; Sma’ Shot Cottages; Thread Mill Museum; Tannahill Cottage; Pop-up galleries; Bishopton Library; Johnstone Town Hall; Renfrew Town Hall; Castle Semple Visitor Centre, Lochwinnoch; Thomas Coats Memorial Church; Spires Drama Studios; Imagine Renfrewshire and Wynd Centre) and Sunday events will be in ‘The Hub’ of Paisley Town Hall and Paisley Abbey.
For more information please see attached flier, phone 0141 882 4520, look at the website or contact

We’re very excited to be able to offer a new range of dance party packages at One Dance Studio. Ideal for Private Parties, Hen and Stag Nights, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Work Nights Out, Celebrations or just for fun, these include dance classes with one of our instructors, transport and a Party T-shirt for each of your friends.


Choose from a selection of options for both Adults and Kids:

The adults only “Party Like A Celeb” Night offers a Burlesque, Belly Dancing or Hip Hop dance lesson for you and your friends, a party vehicle to drive you on to your night time destination, party photos taken by a professional photographer and souvenir T-Shirt for each party-goer.

The kids party option includes a Hip Hop dance class with one of our talented instructors, the chance to play around in a fully equipped play bus, plus a One Dance Studio goodie bag and party photos taken by a professional photographer.

Prices start at £28 per person, with packages available for up to 23 people.

Other combinations are available to suit your requirements, contact us to talk how to make your dance party go with a swing!


The Jingle Bell Fun Run will take place on Sunday 11 December at Barshaw Park. It’s a unique family event that caters for all ages and all abilities.

Choose from a 5k run (11am) or a 1k family fun run/walk/pramathon (12noon).

This year we’ve teamed up with the British Heart Foundation to promote Paisley is a Heart Town. Runners are being encouraged to get raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

A DJ will spin some Christmas sounds and there will be a mass warm up before each event. Plus there will be the opportunity to try out the gym bus or youth bus and Renfrewshire Community Health Initiatives ‘Smoothie Bike’.

Jogging Buddies and British Heart Foundation will also have an information stand on their activities and an opportunity to sign up for the classes starting in the New Year.

There will be a medal and goody bag for all finishers, spot prizes up for grabs and a prize for the best Christmas costume.

We’re also looking for volunteer stewards to marshall on the day. Please give us a call on the number below if you can help.

Entries are: adults £5, children £3, family of four £13.

You can fill out the attached entry form and send it to Jogging Buddies, Barshaw Park Golf Pavillion, Barshaw Park; or enter on the day from 10am until 10.45am. You can also enter online at the Runner’s World website.

Date: Sunday 11 December
Venue: Barshaw Park, Paisley
Cost: Adults £5; kids £3; family of four £13
Entry line: 01505 815943


Content from Renfrewshire Council –

You may have seen me in todays Paisley Express and I am fortunate enough to be able to possibly save someones life who is suffering from Lukemia, this is something I feel strongly about, I donate blood regularly as you never know when you need it yourself (you cant donate blood when your a potential donor though).

The are desperate for men aged between 18-30.

Here is a snippet from the Anthony Nolan website:

Join The Register:

We use our register to match remarkable donors willing to donate their blood stem cells to people who desperately need lifesaving transplants. So far we’ve saved thousands of people from blood cancers, such as leukaemia. With your help, we could save many more.

Right now, we can only find a matching donor for half the people who come to us in desperate need of a lifesaving transplant. Men aged 18-30 are more likely to be chosen to donate, but they currently account for just 12% of donors on our register. That’s why we need more of them to come forward.

The just of it is you can Save a Life, make a difference to someone and their family..

go to or email and I can help you with any questions but basically, its easy to join the register and extremely worth it in the end, imagine the power to save someones life and change their whole world, the thought of that inspires me… We are sometimes mixed up and caught up in our own little world and yet, one act of kindness can change someone for ever..

Please consider it now…

Brian McGuire


Click here to visit the Anthony Nolan website.


Can I just say a big thank you to Allison Rennie from the Paisley Express for her Article today visit their website or visit them on Facebook

You can now get involved and volunteer to delve into Paisley’s dark and murky past, click the poster below to find out more information.