Wishful thinking about Green plans
Don’t get carried away with proposals
When you consider our once envied county town has 230 riverside flats earmarked to be knocked down, a landmark town centre hotel that’s falling down and a celebrated country park hotel that’s burned down - you’d like to think the local authority with its fingerprints on all three would have some sense of priority.
Er . . . no.
Last week the Post reported “secret plans” to develop Ayr’s Low Green had been presented in a private report to South Ayrshire Council almost three months ago.
It’s a scenario that reminded me of a former Daily Record editor who slapped down journos who got carried away with grandiose plans.
“When today’s edition is perfect – you can start thinking about tomorrows” he would counsel.
And I would counsel South Ayrshire Council to think the same.
I’m not against outline plans to develop areas of Ayr’s iconic Low Green – although I’ll defer final judgement until I see the plans and the areas.
This page has argued for years that our town has to win back its tourist crown with some dramatic measures. And they don’t come more dramatic than commercialising “sacred” Common Good land.
But this is the SNP- led council that swept to power with a manifesto that included a multi- million pound marina complex and a new swimming pool and leisure facility in the heart ofthe town centre.
More than two years down the line – all we’ve done is read about them. Not a single spade- full of sod has been turned.
Yet, here we go again with more grand ideas to bring vital tourist pounds to our town.
There’s already speculation about a giant “London Eye” style big wheel. One councillorwants “a Costa or a Starbucks with a viewing deck”.
It’s all wishful thinking.
Right now, all I’m wishing for is a Nescafe and a Tunnock’s tea cake at Ayr Station – not tomention a decent toilet. As my old boss might say, ‘ let’s make the Ayr town centre of today perfect before we start thinking about tomorrow’.
And let’s not kid ourselves, even ‘ tomorrow’s’ plan is fraught with danger. Using Common Good land to “make more cash for the Common Good Fund” is pretty tenuous linkage.
And let’s not forget that a previous South Ayrshire Council spent £ 900,000 of Common Good cash on fixing Ayr Town Hall’s roof!
Previous council administrations are also to blame for the blunt truth that the areas of esplanade that SHOULD have been attractions, amusements, cafes and restaurants were the parts north of Pavilion Road all the way to South Harbour Street.
Instead, they sanctioned the building of flats.
Sending the bulldozers in to the OTHER side of Ayr Pavilion is not going to happen without afight – and I predict a very ugly one. Ayr’s Low Green may well be “an asset we don’t use” – but it’s a dear, green place to many . . . who want it to stay that way!
The quote comes from Tory council leader Martin Dowey – who clearly likes the idea. There’s speculation that Martin could be Ayr’s new Tory candidate at the next generalelection.
Well, if he wants to stand any chance – he’d better start disliking the idea pretty soon!
From his imaginary coffee house esplanade viewing deck, he’d be able to look south and see the roofs of Ayr’s Tory heartland.
And judging by my e- mails, the majority of them don’t want to see a single slab on the Low Green – never mind a Starbucks!
I’m all for progress – and God knows Ayr needs progress. But let’s do it cautiously, carefullyand considerately.
If I’m going to buy a ticket for Ayr’s ‘ Big Wheel’ . . . I want to look out over a town worthy of its name!
Yet, here we go again with more grand ideas to bring vital tourist pounds to our town