How many times do we hear people criticising Dumbarton High Street? They have every reason to, of course. In common parlance that place would rip your knitting.
I had a look at it the other day when I went down the town to have my vaccine jag at Dumbarton Health Centre.
That’s another facility which is rapidly deteriorating, well past its sell-by date and sorely in need of replacement.
So, why don’t we do something about it?
What could be done, however? We have another 80 odd years of this century remaining. What could be done to make Dumbarton more amenable?
Most people I speak with suggest that the west side of the street should be knocked down and that this would give people an excellent view of the river and Levengrove Park which these days is beautiful.
Isn’t it a blessing that we fought to keep the flower beds and cut the grass?
Anyway, the High Street. We would have to have a completely new traffic management scheme.
West Dunbartonshire Council are supposed to be doing something about it but waiting for them is like waiting for Godot.
Some woman imported from Greenock is supposed to be looking after this project but then have you had a look at Greenock recently?
What would I do?
For a start, I would rid the river of the sunken wrecks which pollute it at present and open it up to the Quay and the new walkway down to the Castle.
I wouldn’t go as far as to knock down the whole west side of the High Street though.
What I would do is demolish most of it and leave an island in the centre, which would include Glencairn House.
All the other businesses on that side of the road, I would move into the Town Centre.
The Council could offer them a deal which would make that economically viable for them.
That could be done on a case by case, shop by shop basis.
At the outset of this Notebook, I mentioned that the reason I had been in the town was to attend a vaccine appointment at the Health Centre.
As I mentioned, the Health Centre is old an far from beautiful, so why not move it into the town centre?
How does the site of the now closed Rialto Cinema sound and, a bit more controversially, Dumbarton Bowling Club – The Big Green?
Let’s face it, like most other pursuits, including golf and even football, bowls is not what it was.
The sward to the rear of the Rialto is no longer sacred ground.
Levengrove Park with the flowers in full bloom. Picture by Michael Moffat
You can easily become a member these days even if you kick with the wrong foot. It wasn’t always so.
Why don’t the Big Green members move up to the Dixon Bowling Club clubhouse and greens at Kirktonhill?
That would not be an inconvenience for the bowlers since these days most people do not drink and drive and they take a taxi when they’re going out. If the churches can merge successfully then why couldn’t the bowlers?
When the Council was debating what should happen to the Burgh Hall, they prayed in aid of a £16 million refurbishment that moving their staff to the centre of the town would increase footfall to the High Street.
It didn’t – and it never will since the hall is unfortunately – £16 million unfortunately – not fit for purpose.
What’s the point of having a debating chamber where you can’t hear what’s going on and you can’t see who is doing the talking?
What would unquestionably increase footfall to the High Street and the shops which move across to the “new” town centre would be a new Health Centre.
I don’t wish to be parochial, but the Vale’s got one at Alexandria and Clydebank is to have a new one at Queens Quay.
A health centre would bring the people in to shops and cafes. Dumbarton would become a community again.
The town would build on its status as a regenerated county town with courts, shops and commercial activities. And places of entertainment.
Because the Quay had been opened up and new space created, there would be more room for parking handy to the High Street and the “back door” at College Street into the Central Station.
I could go on and on forever and so too could you no doubt.
This is not an expensive “charette”, however. It’s plain and simply an exchange of ideas which would give Dumbarton folk the opportunity to have a say in their future.
And in what kind of future they would like for their children and grandchildren
Levengrove Park and the walkway to the Castle have been a start, an excellent start, so let’s hear it for Dumbarton.
Let’s elect a council that will have people in it who will speak their mind about local issues and not squabble about gender issues.
Let’s wake up, not woke up. Let’s secure for ourselves a Dumbarton we could learn to love again.
Dumbarton High Street – a nightmare that West Dunbartonshire Council cannot solve.